It is no secret that agitation often accompanies dementia, but did you know that nondrug interventions for reducing agitation in dementia patients are thought to be even more effective than medication? Even when medication is used, incorporating certain activities into your loved one's routine can aid in lowering agitation and aggression.
Creating a calm environment is a key factor in preventing agitation. Removing stressors, offering an object that provides comfort or security, and calming rituals can lead to a more peaceful mindset. If physical aggression is becoming an issue, try getting outside. Outdoor activities have been shown to reduce physical aggression in some dementia patients even more than antipsychotic medication, according to this article by Harvard Medical School. Touch is another way to ward off agitation. Massage, touch therapy, and music have been proven effective in combating verbal aggression.
The Alzheimer's Association suggests monitoring personal comfort and avoiding environmental triggers to prevent anxiety and agitation in those with dementia. That means meeting all needs that could lead to discomfort (hunger, thirst, needing to use the restroom, etc.), and keeping the room at a comfortable temperature. Providing reassurance and involving your loved one in daily activities are great ways to reduce agitation and aggression, as well.
And remember, take care of yourself! Stay connected with others through groups like ALZConnected, or stop by a Fellowship Home community to discuss resources that are available and ways we can help lighten the load.