One of the challenging behaviors that often comes with dementia is agitation. When a senior is agitated, they may be restless or seem worried. They may be unable to sit still and cooperate with caregivers. While there are medications that can reduce agitation, new research suggests that other methods not involving medicine may actually work better.
Lessening Agitation Without Medication
Researchers were interested in looking for alternatives to using medicines because some of them have difficult side effects. In fact, one of the risks of using anti-agitation medicines is that some of them can make memory and cognitive abilities worse.
To examine how alternative methods worked, the scientists looked at the existing body of research. They used information from 163 previous studies. The collective studies involved in excess of 23,000 participants. The studies used examine both using medications and using other methods. The average age of the participants was 75. In addition, there were a wide variety of dementias involved, including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
The studies also used many different kinds of medications and non-medication approaches. Some of the non-medication approaches included:
- Making changes to the senior’s environment.
- Participating in outdoor activities.
- Music therapy.
- Recreational therapy.
- Caregiver education.
- Caregiver support.
The researchers found outdoors activities to be the most helpful for agitation. Other activities that ranked high were massage, touch therapy, exercise, and modifying daily activities.
Other Ways to Reduce Agitation
Experts in dementia suggest that there are many ways to reduce or even prevent agitation. Some of them are:
- Keeping the environment calm by removing things that may cause stress or confusion.
- Speak with a soothing voice and reassure the older adult that they are safe.
- Make certain physical needs are met. Try to determine if the senior is hungry, needs the bathroom, or is too hot or too cold.
- Set a daily routine of getting up, mealtimes, activities, and going to bed and stick to it.
- Keep tasks the senior is involved in simple to avoid frustration. Use short sentences and keep steps as simple as possible.
- When the senior is agitated, try distracting them with an activity they enjoy or by offering a favorite snack.
Senior care providers can also assist families to deal with agitation in an older adult who has dementia. Senior care providers are experienced and have professional resources to turn to when agitation is a problem. Your older family member’s senior care provider can take steps to keep them comfortable, entertained, and happy to avoid episodes of agitation.
If you or an aging loved one are considering SeniorCare in Lake Forest, IL, contact the caring staff at Companion Services of America today at (847) 943-3786. Our home care service area includes Northbrook, Highland Park, Deerfield, Glenview, Buffalo Grove, Evanston, Des Plaines, Skokie, Lake Forest, Wilmette and the surrounding areas.