Two symptoms that many seniors with dementia experience are agitation and irritability. There is no way to know for certain what triggers these challenging emotions, or when they will occur.
Agitation in Dementia Patients
It is very important for family members who have a loved one living with dementia to know some strategies that can be used to calm them and provide support when agitation or even aggressiveness occurs. Let’s look at 5 effective ways to help older loved ones work through these difficult emotions.
Playing a senior’s favorite music is a great way to calm them when dementia-related agitation occurs. Not only does music release feel good chemicals in the brain such as dopamine, but it also can bring back memories of happy times for your loved one. If you are not sure what your loved one’s favorite music is, have a discussion about it so you can get songs for them to enjoy.
Interacting with a Pet
Having a pleasurable experience with a pet has shown to be an effective way to help seniors with dementia feel more at ease. If you have a dog or cat that is well suited to being touched and petted, let your older loved one interact with them. Petting an animal can lower blood pressure, trigger feel good hormones in the brain, and promote a sense of well-being.
Just the simple act of holding your loved one’s hand, giving them a hug or a gentle massage can do wonders for reversing feelings of irritation and agitation. Physical contact often communicates caring and establishes trust. Creating a bond in this way with your loved one can help them feel calmer and safe in their surroundings.
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Certain scents like lavender and other essential oils can have a calming effect on seniors coping with dementia-related agitation. These aromas stimulate the nose’s smell receptors, which send signals to the brain that can reduce anxiety and depression.
Sometimes one of the best ways to help an older loved one is to reassure them that they are safe, and everything is okay. Letting them talk about their feelings is an effective de-escalation tool. Everyone wants to be heard, and by taking the time to listen to your loved one’s frustrations, you can help them process their emotions more productively.
Coping with Anxiety & Dementia
For many seniors, living with dementia is extremely challenging. There are many ways you can help your older loved one cope with agitation and irritability. By utilizing music, interacting with a pet, providing verbal reassurance, and using aroma therapy, you can help your older loved one effectively work through what they are experiencing.
The compassionate staff at Frontier Senior Living has helped many families find the right Memory Care community to meet their loved one’s specific care needs. If you would like to learn more about our services, we invite you to visit one of our communities and speak with our friendly staff.