Treating Agitation in People With Alzheimer's Disease
There are a number of behavior problems associated with Alzheimer's disease. These include depression, paranoia, wandering, hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there), restlessness, irritability, uncharacteristic cursing, threatening language, and confusion. These problems can interfere with normal daily activity and sleep and may increase the risk of harm to the person with Alzheimer's and his or her caregiver.
Often, agitation is triggered by a change in environment, fear, or fatigue. Other times, it's triggered by an infection or another medical problem. Therefore, it's important to receive a medical evaluation to look for treatable causes of agitation.
For John MacInnes, the beginnings of Alzheimer’s disease were startling. The
retired executive and former pastor in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., first realized
something was wrong as he was delivering a PowerPoint presentation to a
community group. “Then in mid-sentence, I had problems,” he says. “I had a
well-rehearsed script in front of me, but I couldn’t get the words right,
couldn’t get them out. That kind of shook me up.”
Memory loss and impaired thinking are hallmark symptoms of this disease...
If a medical problem does not exist, then the agitation can be managed using medication and simple behavioral techniques to simplify the patient’s routine and distract them from the stress that caused the problem.
Medications often used to treat agitation include:
Antipsychotics. Medicines used to treat paranoia and confusion are called neuroleptics or antipsychotics. Examples of these medicines are Haldol, Risperdal, Zyprexa, Clozaril, Geodon, and Seroquel. Side effects can include drowsiness, rigidity, and unusual movements.