Managing Agitation in Dementia

patient in a hospital bed holding hands with a visitor

Agitation affects up to seven out of ten dementia patients, thus understanding how to manage these challenging situations is crucial. It’s a safe bet that if someone has dementia, they’ll be agitated at some point. Even more importantly, the one aspect that is most concerning is when the agitation becomes aggressive. These percentages appear to be between 15 and 20% of dementia sufferers.

When it comes to dementia-related agitation, it’s much easier to talk about the things we shouldn’t do than it is to talk about what we should do. We know there are medications available, but none of them are ideal. When it comes to non-drug solutions, it’s critical to identify and address issues before they become a problem. A daily routine might aid in reducing agitation. When you attempt something new or different, patients may become more agitated. It is essential to provide caregivers, staff, and families with support and education on how to handle dementia patients.

Medications for agitated patients may be beneficial. Many people who work with dementia patients, particularly in skilled nursing institutions, recommend acetaminophen. To manage pain that is undiagnosed or unspoken, acetaminophen can be scheduled up to three grams per day could be worth a try, according to certain studies. The theory is that these patients are unable to communicate with us and articulate what is bothering them. They might not even be aware of what’s bothering them and acetaminophen can help take the edge off, enough to settle things down. Other medications, such as benzodiazepines and antipsychotics, should be discussed with caregivers and families to determine the risks and benefits.

For in-depth and detailed answers to the following questions, register to view our June Hot Topic on-demand webinar on Managing Agitation in Dementia:

  • What non-drug measures may improve agitation in patients with dementia?
  • What are other causes of agitation in patients with dementia?
  • When should medications be considered?
  • What medication should be tried first?
  • When should antipsychotics be used?
  • What’s the role of benzodiazepines?
  • Do any other meds have a role?

Register to View