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 their 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.
Unfortunately, getting an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis is not simple. Your doctor can’t check for the disease by doing a quick blood test. That’s because signs of Alzheimer’s disease don't appear in your blood. Instead, Alzheimer’s disease is the result of a problem inside your brain.
The only way to be 100% certain a person suffers from Alzheimer’s disease is to examine samples of brain tissue. This can only be done during an autopsy, after a person has died.
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.