4 Tips for Handling Anxiety in Alzheimer’s Patients

Up to 75% of people with Alzheimer’s experience anxiety, which may present with behaviors like:

• Aggression
• Anger
• Complaints of a racing heart
• Excessive worry
• Fearfulness

If you’re acting as a caregiver to an aging loved one experiencing these symptoms, try these four strategies to provide comfort.

1. Identify the Cause

Change is a common trigger for anxiety in Alzheimer’s sufferers. Your loved one may react negatively to a change in location, caregivers, schedule, or living environment. He or she may get frustrated as common tasks become harder to perform.

Worsening dementia also makes it more difficult to understand conversations or events, which can make your loved one feel overwhelmed or scared. Even being bored or lonely may bring on a bout of anxiety.

2. Remove Known Triggers

Help your loved one cope by reducing stress as much as possible. Eliminate unnecessary distractions, such as background radio or TV noise. Maintain predictable daily routines, and discuss any necessary changes well in advance to allow your loved one time to adjust.

Provide tasks that are simple, straightforward and easy to complete. You should also evaluate your loved one’s diet to determine if caffeine, alcohol, or food additives may be having affecting behavior.

3. Respond Appropriately

When your loved one becomes anxious, stay calm. Keep a level head, and acknowledge how they’re feeling. Never raise your voice, become short-tempered or tell your loved one he or she is being irrational. Instead, shift the focus to something positive. Ask what you can do to help, or offer a beneficial distraction, such as going for a walk or playing a favorite game.

4. Consider Medications

If anxiety becomes overwhelming, talk with your loved one’s doctor. Some medications or combinations of treatments can provide relief, including:

• Anti-anxiety medications
• Antidepressants
• Antipsychotics
• Neuroleptics

The doctor can determine which options are best for your loved one based on his or her symptoms. Because these medications can have side effects and may carry certain risks for Alzheimer’s patients, it’s important to discuss the choices with a health professional and familiarize yourself with potential reactions before deciding on a course of treatment.

The anxiety associated with Alzheimer’s disease can be distressing to your loved one and difficult for you. Be prepared with a plan to address symptoms, and remember to take time to manage your own emotional health so that you’re able to provide ongoing comfort.

If you find yourself overwhelmed by your loved one’s anxiety, Caring Home Care can help! Our certified caregivers are well-versed in providing quality care that your loved one needs to feel secure and at peace. Learn more about our caregivers today!

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