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Easing Dementia Agitation

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

senior man with Dementia Agitation looking out window

Pacing. Fidgeting. Wandering. When you start to note these signs in an individual with Alzheimer’s, it’s time for you to take action before they escalate to dementia agitation, aggression, or leaving the home. But identifying why the person is feeling uneasy is sometimes half the battle.

To begin with, think about the following questions:

  • Has the person been inactive too long and needs to move?

  • Are there visitors who could be producing anxiety or distress?

  • Are there too many distractions in the room?

  • Is anything causing the individual pain or physical discomfort?

  • Might they need to use the restroom?

  • Are they bored?

  • Could they be thirsty or hungry?

If you’re not certain, try fulfilling potential physical needs first. Ask if they are interested in a snack or something to drink. Watch for nonverbal clues that may point to distress, and contact the doctor right away for direction in the event that you suspect the senior is in pain.

If the problem seems to be emotionally driven, try distracting the person with a soothing activity that they really enjoy, such as listening to favorite music and dancing together to channel that restless energy in a positive manner. Go for a walk outside, if weather permits, or move into another room of the house for a change of scenery and to read, work on a puzzle together, or take part in another enjoyable activity.

The Unique Difficulties of Sundowning

Sundowning occurs late in the afternoon and into the evening, causing the individual to feel particularly anxious about being in the wrong place or wanting to go “home,” even when they are already at home. If restlessness is happening during this particular time of day, it could be extremely difficult for family caregivers, who need to be able to rest and get a sufficient amount of sleep.

To help a senior with sundowning, a team approach is frequently best, allowing the primary family caregiver to take the break they need during the night while ensuring the individual remains safe. Steps you can take include:

  • Create a tag with identifying and contact information for the senior, or purchase an identity bracelet or necklace, and make sure the individual is wearing it at all times.

  • Talk with the person’s neighbors to let them know about the situation so they can help you keep watch in case the senior does manage to wander away from home.

Connect with The Care Company online or at (416) 422-2273 for a thoroughly trained and experienced Alzheimer's caregiver to take the night shift, or any other shift. We can provide someone you love with patient, creative, and compassionate Alzheimer’s care in Toronto or the surrounding areas to help overcome restlessness and other difficulties of Alzheimer's, while giving you peace of mind and a healthier life balance.

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