Increased confusion. Leading to agitation in dementia… Panic… Aggression.
As dementia or Alzheimer’s progresses, agitation in dementia patients is one of the common issues caregivers likely have to deal with.
For a family member/primary caregiver, these episodes of confusion can be quite alarming. And it can be heartbreaking to see your parent or spouse so frightened and confused.
If you find yourself wishing there’s more you could do to calm and console your loved one, take heart. There are things you can do.
We’ve collected advice from memory care professionals on how to best deal with these situations. And we share their advice for you in this article. Here we’ll look at what causes this confusion and agitation, ways to help prevent it and tips for calming a confused senior.
Common Causes of Confusion for Those with Dementia or Alzheimer’s
Dementia causes brain cells to deteriorate. This deterioration causes symptoms including memory loss, confusion, agitation, restlessness, and fatigue. As of yet, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease. So, unfortunately, this deterioration can’t be reversed.
That said, there are environmental factors that can make these symptoms worse.
By being aware of your loved one’s surroundings, daily routine, preferences, and triggers, you can make sure they have a comforting environment.
Major Cause of Agitation in Dementia
A major cause of confusion and agitation in dementia patients is change. Dementia makes their world become an unfamiliar place to them. And even small changes can disrupt their daily routine resulting in confusion and agitation.
4 Common Environmental Changes That Affect Behavior of Those Suffering From Dementia
- Getting a new visitor or too many visitors are one time
- Changes in their usual caregiving routine
- Any sort of confrontation or perceived threat
- Being suddenly admitted to an assisted living facility or hospital
3 Ways to Help Prevent Confusion
You can try, as best you can, to monitor the daily situations and interactions your loved one faces. But, ultimately, you can’t control the world around them. Accidents and emergencies happen.
However, there are things you can do to try to reduce the chances your loved one will get confused and agitated.
Here are 3 tips from memory care professionals on how to do this.
A Quiet Space
Loud talking. Commotion. Unfamiliar faces. These things can over stimulate a senior with dementia.
And that causes them stress. All of which can lead to confusion and agitation.
Having a comfortable quiet space can provide some refuge to a loved one who’s feeling overwhelmed. Also, providing comfort items can help too. A blanket or clothing items work well. They can offer a distraction and added security.
Monitor Their Personal Care
Has your loved one taken all their medications? Are they eating well? Have they had enough water to drink? Are they getting enough sleep?
Making sure all these, and other, personal care matters are being addresses will help seniors with dementia be more comfortable.
Try to Avoid Surprises or Sudden Changes in Routine
We already mentioned that change is a major cause of confusion and agitation for seniors with dementia. But change is inevitable as their dementia progresses. And there will likely come a time when they need professional care.
Before your loved one may need to move to a full-time memory care facility, consider part-time care or adult day care options. When introduced sooner rather than later, your loved one can familiarize themselves with outside caregivers. And also become more comfortable in surroundings outside the home.
4 Steps for Responding to a Confused Senior
Even if you do all you can to minimize confusion in your loved one, it’s inevitable that they will become confused from time to time. And when that happens, here are 4 steps on how to respond.
- Listen to them
Listen to their frustrations. Hear them out. And then validate their emotions and sympathize with their situation.
- Provide reassurance
Even if you don’t understand, it’s important to provide comfort and reassurance.
Trying to reason with them usually won’t work. Their brain simply can’t process information the way a health brain does. Better to just let them know that they are safe and that you support them.
- Change the Situation
If they seem upset by loud noises, try moving to a quiet area.
If they’re overwhelmed by new faces or places, try distracting them. One good way to do this is giving them a simple task to focus on. Like folding towels. Or buttoning a sweater. Or completing a puzzle.
Occupying their mind in ways like this can ease behavioral symptoms.
- Share your experience
Talk with your loved one’s doctor and/or professional caregivers. They may be able to alter medications, therapy plans or offer other advice on how to respond in the future.
Know this when it comes to confusion and agitation… you are not responsible and that help is available for both you and your loved one.
As your loved one’s disease progresses, you may need additional support and help providing adequate memory care. The more you can prepare for this advance, the better it will be for both you and your senior loved one. Trained memory care professionals are able to meet the unique needs of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.
To find a list of memory care resources near you, search our listings here…