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.
A dementia diagnosis can be devastating -- not only for the patient, but for those who love him, too. “There’s a grieving that occurs. You haven’t lost your loved one, but the person you know is going to change,” says Rosanne M. Leipzig, MD, professor of geriatric medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
If you or someone close to you has Alzheimer’s or other dementia, here are six steps to help you cope now and in the future.
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.