Anxiety and Agitation
In our first blog on behaviours, we explored anger and aggression and determined that the best way to deal with it was to remain calm and remember that it is not truly towards us as caregivers. It is usually because your loved one is frustrated, and they do not know how to truly express themselves.
According to the Dementia Society there is a basic three-step approach in understanding and finding solutions to the most common behaviours that is used by professionals all over our country.
- Examine the behaviour.
- What was the behaviour – was it harmful?
- Did something trigger the behaviour?
- What happened immediately after the behaviour?
- Could something be causing the person pain?
- Could this be related to medications or illness? Consult a doctor to be sure.
- Explore potential solutions.
- Are the persons needs being met?
- Can adapting the surrounding comfort the person?
- How can you change your reaction or approach?
- Try different responses.
- Did your new response help?
- Do you need to explore other potential solutions? If so, what can you do differently?
Here at MPHC, we always say that instead of trying to bring a person with dementia into our world, we need to live in their world.
Anyone with a loved one with dementia has heard the term “sundowning” this occurs late afternoon early evening. Our loved one becomes very agitated. There are several factors that contribute to sundowning– they are fatigue, low lighting, increased shadows, disruption of body’s internal clock, difficulty separating reality from dreams and presence of an infection like a UTI.
You can try to reduce your loved ones agitation from sundowning by maintaining a predictable routine for bedtime, waking, meals and activities, plan for activities and exposure to light during the day to encourage nighttime sleepiness, limit day napping, limit caffeine and sugar intake to mornings, have a night light to reduce agitation when surroundings are dark and unfamiliar, reduce background noise at nighttime, create a calm environment, play gentle music or listen to sounds of nature and if you suspect an infection of any sort, speak to your family doctor.
According to the Dementia Society, the best way to respond to an individual who is exhibiting anxiety and agitation includes:
- Check for pain.
- Listen to the frustration. Try to figure out what is causing the anxiety. Track their triggers so you know what to avoid, look at the activities
- Provide reassurance. Speak in a calm voice and let them know you are there for them.
- Involve your loved on in activities. Music therapy, or other relaxing activities that your loved one enjoys, ones where they will not get frustrated or confused.
- Adjust their eating patterns – large meals can increase agitation and may keep them up at night especially if they consume caffeine and alcohol at dinner – limit evening food intake to smaller meals. Make lunch the bigger meal for your loved one.
- Modify the environment – reduce the noise or relocate to a different room.
- Light Therapy can reduce agitation and confusion – consider placing a full-spectrum fluorescent light about one meter away from your loved one for a couple of hours in the morning
- Go for a drive, or a walk – look for outlets for the energy.
- Make sure to take care of yourself as well
In our next blog on behaviours, we will discuss forgetfulness and confusion. Remember to keep an eye out for it. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us and we will help you any way we can.