Alzheimer's Symptoms Managing Care
In Home Senior Care

Alzheimer’s Symptoms: Managing Care

Caring for an aging loved one with Alzheimer’s symptoms is exhausting. One of the most difficult illnesses to manage at home is Alzheimer’s disease. The reasons for this are many. But one of the most difficult Alzheimer’s symptoms are the unpredictable, erratic, sometimes aggressive behaviors.

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Alzheimer’s Symptoms Most Common

Some of the most common symptoms are erratic behaviors such as:

  • Repetitive Behaviors
  • Unwarranted Suspicions
  • Aggression
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Wandering

These symptoms are all common and normal with the disease progression. There are a number of ways to help manage difficult Alzheimer’s symptoms. One primary way is through re-direction.

Redirection- What is it?

Re-direction can involve responding calmly, reducing stimuli and then introducing an activity or distraction. Soft music or a simple activity can be helpful.Try this simple music box player for elderly with dementia.

Sometimes the person living with dementia will become so agitated, confused, or suspicious that it will result in aggression. Usually this type of acting out is because he or she cannot express him or herself fully, causing deep frustration.

Aggressive behaviors could be verbal like yelling, or even physical like hitting. The first step is to try and identify triggers or pain points and remove them. If a specific situation or activity causes aggressive behavior, it is best to avoid that activity in the future. Using a calm tone, try to reassure them and use the re-direction tactic to suggest a different activity.

Sundowning Behaviors

Alzheimer’s symptoms often include sleep disturbances. Day/night confusion is a common phenomenon known as sun-downing. Sun downing is when a patient with Alzheimer’s experiences increased confusion late in the day or at night. This is more common in the mid to later stages of the illness. 

It is never a good idea to immediately introduce a sleep inducing medication to manage this behavior. The risks of such medications for elderly individuals, especially those who have dementia are too high. Your loved one could be at a higher risk of increased confusion and potentially falls with injury which can be detrimental or even fatal.

Non Pharmaceutical Ways to Reduce Symptoms

  • Sticking to a routine. Performing the same tasks and actions in the same order every day can help your loved one feel secure, and more calm and collected. Schedule changes can be extremely disruptive and agitating. It is best to avoid them as much as possible and make them as slight or  gradual as possible. Keeping wake and bed times consistent is shown to have a positive effect.
  • There has been some positive research on the effect of lights on sundowning. Fluorescent lamps with low level blueish-white light, imitating daylight, may help to regulate circadian rhythms and promote more restful sleep.
  • Keeping them active during the day and limiting naps to ensure a better night’s sleep can make life easier for everyone. And getting exercise is known to be good for the brain in many ways.
  • Serving larger meals in the middle of the day rather than the evening, so that the body is not busy digesting at bedtime can be helpful.
  • Limiting television can decrease agitation and create a calm environment. Consider instead playing soft music for entertainment. 
  • Make sure any pain or discomfort is managed appropriately.
  • In some cases, when all else fails a medication might be needed to promote restful sleep. It is always important to discuss with your doctor first, and to weight the risks and benefits.

Lastly, it is important to make others aware. Alzheimer’s is nothing to be ashamed of. The trend is such that by 2050, a projected 13.8 million people will be living with it in the US alone. Barring any medical breakthrough to prevent or cure the disease, the push to inform, educate and support those living with it will be crucial.

READ MORE about how to keep your loved one with dementia active and engaged…10 Easy Activities for Alzheimer

The risks are high for caregiver burnout when caring for a loved one with cognitive impairments. READ MORE about avoiding caregiver burnout