Is your loved one's Alzheimer's-induced irritability, anxiety and "bad behavior" difficult for you to handle?

If your answer to this question is a resounding "Yes!" don't worry, you're not alone.

Most people caring for elderly family members with Alzheimer's disease find it more difficult 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 and their caregiver," says Jacobo Mintzer, M.D., chairman of AFA's Medical and Scientific Advisory Board. The intensive care needed by people with Alzheimer's and other dementia often results in caregivers enduring years of self sacrifice.

The top three behavioral issues that 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.


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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 also found some 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 work effectively for some caregivers.