Alzheimer's Care

Monday, 23 April 2012

Understanding Agitated Behavior

Caregivers for Alzheimer's Patients | Dementia Care | Care Managers
Arizona, Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, AZ

When dealing with those suffering with the memory loss and confusion of Alzheimer’s or Dementia, we tend to forget patients’ limited ability to communicate. In many instances, the frustration felt by their inability to express their feelings correctly causes them to become very agitated, angry or even violent. Agitation, frustration, and anger can often times become patients’ sole coping mechanism or mode of expression.

As caregivers, it is up to us to identify the events or situations that tend to “trigger” stress and agitation. It is equally important to identify instances where the agitation is sudden and seems to have no trigger at all. Here are a few tips to help reduce stress for your loved ones.

Chaos – It is important to adjust the environment immediately surrounding your loved one. Visual chaos like stark shadows from windows, light fixtures, or household clutter can be agitating to patients. Lots of mirrors, shiny objects or even bright colors can also cause stress. Loud or repetitive noises are also key triggers to agitation. Make sure to focus on creating a calm environment.

Overcompensating – Most of us tend to overcompensate for the memory loss of our loved ones. It is important to remember that an increase in the frequency of reminders, repeating, questioning or quizzing will most often not help the situation. It is more important to be patient and understanding with them. What is really happening is not necessarily important for them to know. If they don’t recognize their surroundings… it’s okay to pretend your visiting friends and simply “play along.”

Routine – Consistency in environment and daily routine are key in reducing stress for Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients. Make sure to refrain from excessive holiday decorating and other noticeable changes around their living spaces. Daily activities and meal times should remain as consistent as possible. Even though visitors can be a welcome change and sometimes trigger old memories that make for some of the better moments… too many visitors can be overwhelming and cause significant stress.

Fatigue – If your loved one tends to get agitated late in the day, it could be a sign they are not getting enough rest. Try to have consistent rest times during the day and make sure the “rest” environment differs from the “sleep” environment. For example, let them rest in an easy-chair vs. climbing into bed under the covers. If they are waking up in the middle of the night confused more often… they may not be getting enough rest during the daytime.

Medication – When trying to medicate Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, it is necessary to experiment with drug variations, different dosage and combinations in order to find what works best for each individual. Make sure to take careful notes and pay close attention to behavior changes as they relate to medication adjustments.  Each involved party that has regular interaction with the patient (family members, caregivers, medical professionals, etc.) should take their own notes as patients may behave differently around different people.  After long enough period has passed (generally a couple weeks), parties should compare notes and seek any noticeable trends/changes. Many times, agitation can be the result of these changes.

Care Management – Care Management is a service offered to patients and their families that allows for experienced medical professionals to regularly assess the client and their situation and determine the continually evolving needs of the patient.  Care Managers are knowledgeable about the many different service options and vendors available in the client’s area to meet their needs and ensure follow through on the whole process.  Hiring a professional Care Manager is the best way to make sure your loved one has all of the best resources to ensure the best possible quality of life. There is a whole world of help available to you and your loved ones, a qualified Care Manager in Arizona can help guide you through every step of the way.