5 Causes of Agitation in Seniors with Alzheimer’s
But when a loved one with Alzheimer’s becomes agitated, it’s especially difficult to deal with. If you don’t have any medical or senior care training, you may be at a loss about what to do.
Understanding some of the main causes of Alzheimer’s-related agitation can help you minimize anxiety and angry outbursts by avoiding stressful situations.
And if you can’t prevent a difficult behavior completely, at least you will be better prepared to manage it.
5 Reasons a Senior with Alzheimer’s Gets Agitated
1. Fear or fatigue
Older adults with Alzheimer’s live in a scary, unfamiliar world. The fatigue that comes from trying to understand their surroundings often causes agitation.
By creating a calming, distraction-free atmosphere most of the time, you may be able to decrease some of the agitation your loved one feels.
2. A break in routine
It’s hard enough for someone with Alzheimer’s to understand their everyday world when things around them remain stable. A break in routine—even seemingly positive changes like a visit from friends—can cause agitation.
To prevent agitation in these situations, explain in advance to your loved one what’s happening.
Whether it’s a trip to the doctor, a visit from the grandchildren, or a family celebration, remind your loved one what’s happening, what they can expect, and that you’ll be with them through it all. You may need to repeat this over and over depending upon how great their memory loss is.
3. Perceived threats
People with Alzheimer’s often become agitated when they perceive a threat. And what we view as normal could be seen as a threat to someone with Alzheimer’s.
To minimize this risk, strive for a stress-free, calming environment. Avoid too much noise, or even “loud” colors and patterns, which can cause agitation.
If your loved one perceives a threat, don’t try to invalidate their feelings. Instead, tell them it will be okay and that you will stay with them until they feel better.
Speak in calming tones. Ask how you can help. You might also distract your loved one with an easy chore or some light exercise.
4. A change in caregivers
Any change can cause agitation in someone with Alzheimer’s. But one of the most disruptive changes relates to caregiving. Changing caregivers removes someone the senior has grown to trust and rely on, and introduces a new person. This is tough for a person with memory loss.
If you think about a toddler with separation anxiety, it’s easy to understand what a senior with Alzheimer’s may be feeling when a new caregiver joins the family. Consider making a slow transition to the new caregiver, and expect some agitation until your loved one settles into the new routine.
5. A change in location
There is, perhaps, no change more jarring for a senior with Alzheimer’s than a move—especially a move from a lifelong home.
Moving your loved one into a memory care community, staffed with experts trained to manage agitation and other Alzheimer’s symptoms, can ease the transition. From moving day to the weeks following, the staff will ensure your loved one feels safe and protected, while also caring for their daily needs.
Change is one of the most common causes of agitation, but a move to Five Star Senior Living doesn’t have to create anxiety for your loved one. Contact our expert team for advice on making this transition go smoothly.