Is your loved one's Alzheimer's-induced irritability, anxiety and inappropriateness difficult for you to handle?
If your answer to this question is a resounding, "yes," don't worry, you're not alone.
Very few people taking care of elderly family members with Alzheimer's disease find it easier to manage a senior's behavioral symptoms than their cognitive shortcomings (confusion, memory loss, etc.), according to a recent Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) survey of 750 family caregivers.
"When neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia like severe agitation, aggression and severe symptoms of depression appear, they can be a real challenge to a patient's and a caregiver's quality of life," says Jacobo Mintzer, M.D., chairman of AFA's Medical and Scientific Advisory Board, in an AFA press release.
The top three behavioral issues that the surveyed caregivers reported having to deal with on a daily basis were: sundowning, anxiety, and irritability. These problems were most often sparked when the person with Alzheimer's became frustrated with something or was placed in an unfamiliar environment.
Eighty percent of caregivers said prescription medications were their loved one's physician's go-to solution for Alzheimer's-related behavioral problems. But, nearly one-third claimed that they found non-drug interventions to be useful in keeping a loved one calm.
Keeping an Alzheimer's-stricken loved one on a consistent routine was the most effective non-medical way to stave off bad behavior. Watching television and providing reassurance and positive reinforcement were two other strategies that seemed to work for some caregivers.