How to Respond When a Senior with Alzheimer’s Is Agitated
Agitation is a common symptom among adults with Alzheimer’s disease. When a person is agitated, they may become annoyed or restless with seemingly little to no provocation. A loved one who is agitated may fidget, pace, or repeat behaviors.
It can be difficult for caregivers to watch their loved ones in distress, and naturally, they want to help. In most cases, something is causing this reaction. By understanding why their loved ones are experiencing these feelings, caregivers can learn how to respond.
Understanding Agitation in Adults with Alzheimer’s
- Physical discomfort
When a person with Alzheimer’s disease experiences physical discomfort, their condition can make it difficult for them to identify the source of their distress. Other times, they may have trouble putting their symptoms into words. The inability to articulate their feelings can cause them to become agitated. Hunger, constipation, and sleep deprivation are common causes of physical discomfort that can contribute to agitated behavior.
Sometimes, discomfort causes pain. A love one’s body language may tell you what is bothering them. Do they hold or rub a particular area of their body repeatedly? Does their skin appear dry or irritated? If you suspect your loved one is in pain and you can’t identify the cause, it’s usually a good idea to ask their doctor.
Dementia can cause a person to become overstimulated quickly. Too many people talking at once and large crowds can overwhelm them and cause them to become agitated. Other forms of excess stimulation include clutter or background noise from the television or radio.
Caregivers can help by limiting the number of stimuli in a loved one’s environment. For example, keep music low and limit the number of people in their space. If you need to go to the store, go during times when it is less crowded.
- Change in routine
Sticking to a routine is important for people with dementia. It lets them know what to expect and allows them to carry out their responsibilities independently. Because change causes people with Alzheimer’s to rely on their memory as opposed to their habits, they may become frustrated as they try to adapt.
It may help to let your loved one know in advance about changes in routine. For example, remind them of upcoming appointments several times. Also, be sure to let them know when friends and family are scheduled to visit.
When a loved one is agitated, do your best to remain calm. Just because the disease is causing their feelings doesn’t make them any less valid. Your loved one will appreciate you taking time to understand why they are upset and figuring out ways to help.
Heritage Senior Communities
If you are struggling to manage your loved one’s Alzheimer’s symptoms, it may be time to consider memory care. Heritage Senior Communities provides specialized dementia care across Michigan. Because our communities are designed for people with dementia, they can help reduce many symptoms, including agitation. Contact us today to learn more.