Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a form of dementia that directly impact memory, behavior, and thinking. It causes the brain to shrink in size, and although forgetfulness is a typical part of aging, Alzheimer’s is not. AD is a progressive disease, meaning that is worsens over time from mild, moderate, to severe stages that are characterized by different symptoms. One symptom of this disease is known as agitation. If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, read on to learn about what agitation is, how it is caused, and how you can appropriately respond to it for the sake of both the patient and you, the caretaker.
What is Agitation?
As Alzheimer’s progresses, people diagnosed may become restless and worried for a particular reason. It can sometimes be difficult to identify the cause of the agitation, but some examples include physical pain, confusion, loneliness, and tiredness. The causes of agitation often relate directly to the presence of Alzheimer’s disease in an individual. For example, an individual with Alzheimer’s may be deemed unfit to drive a car; this feeling of loss of independence may cause one to become agitated and aggressive towards those around them.
How to Prevent Agitation
To prevent or subside agitation in those living with AD, it is recommended to foster a calm and comfortable environment. To achieve this, you may want to find a quiet place that is free of loud noise, distractions, and multiple unfamiliar faces. Simplifying tasks and ensuring that the individual is comfortable is key as well. A person with Alzheimer’s may not be able to proactively advocate for themselves, so be sure to check for hunger, thirst, pain, and fatigue regularly.
Responding to Agitation
While preventing agitation from arising in the first place is preferred, it is unfortunately not always unavoidable. It may be difficult to remain calm and collected during outbursts, but it is important to remember that agitation is merely a symptom of this Alzheimer’s disease, and it is neither you nor your loved one’s fault. Providing reassurance and calm communication may help to diffuse a tense or unpleasant situation. Remind your loved one that you are here to help, listen, and make them feel safe. Agitation can sometimes stem from restlessness, so it may be helpful to suggest an outlet for extra energy, such as taking a walk or going for a car ride together if possible. Avoid raising your voice, making sudden movements, or ignoring the individual so as to not make the situation worse.
If you are caring for a loved one expressing agitation from Alzheimer’s disease, be sure to consult a physician for guidance on proper care. BTC of New Bedford is currently enrolling participants with various health conditions. Find out today if you are eligible for care at no cost to you!