Agitation is a common behavioral symptom of dementia, and there are many things that can trigger this type of behavior, such as a change in routine or environment. Caregivers should consider the following effective ways to mitigate dementia-related agitation.
1. Look for a Trigger
When your senior loved one becomes agitated, look for the source of discomfort. He or she might be reacting to a physical need. If your loved one has a difficult time communicating the issue, he or she may become agitated or aggressive. Check to see if your loved one is thirsty, hungry, hot, or cold or simply needs to use the bathroom. Once you address your loved one’s needs, he or she may become less agitated.
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2. Remove Environmental Distractions
Agitation can also be triggered by too much stimulation. If your loved one becomes agitated when surrounded by crowds or in response to loud noises, remove him or her from the source of the agitation. For example, many seniors with dementia become agitated at social gatherings. If possible, take your loved one to an empty room where he or she can take time to recover. In the event your loved one doesn’t respond well to sensory overload, make the living space as clean, quiet, and uncluttered as possible. Remove eye-catching distractions, lower the volume on the TV or radio, and opt for a minimalist design scheme.
3. Maintain Routines
Sometimes seniors with dementia become agitated when they face the unexpected. For instance, traveling to an unfamiliar location or meeting new people may disorient or agitate them. You can mitigate agitation by sticking to a daily routine. While dementia makes creating new memories difficult, the part of the brain responsible for remembering daily routines is largely unscathed. When seniors follow consistent schedules, it allows them to be more independent and minimize feelings of agitation.
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4. Try Music Therapy
For some seniors with dementia, a calm, quiet room is the best remedy for agitation. For others, music is a great way to ease agitation. Music has many benefits for people with dementia. It can enhance cognitive function, boost social interactions, and spur memories. Listening to music has a physiological impact on the brain and body. When people listen to music, the brain produces more dopamine, a neurotransmitter that calms anxiety and agitation and creates a feeling of wellbeing.
5. Use the Power of Touch
People with dementia often respond well to gentle touch. When you decide to initiate touch, don’t reach from behind your loved one because it could add to his or her confusion. Instead, stand where your loved one can see you and give him or her a gentle pat on the hand or a soothing arm rub. These small actions can inspire trust and soothe anxious nerves.
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