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Transcript: "Agitation in Someone with Alzheimer's"

Cynthia D. Steele, RN, MPH
Johns Hopkins University Alzheimer's
Disease Center:

Stress and agitation in persons with Alzheimer's disease is a very common occurrence. But it's one that's very upsetting to families, often much more upsetting than just having memory loss alone. There are many reasons it can happen though, and the place to start is to figure out why it's happening. Often, that can happen in a particular situation that the person is having difficulty functioning in. Such as, if they're trying to get dressed and they can't find their clothing and perhaps you're late for an appointment and you're rushing. The best thing to do there is to say, "What was the trigger that got the person upset?" And stop what you're doing. Often, patients when they have these sort of catastrophic reactions will simply calm down if you just stop what you're doing. A common example that will upset a person with Alzheimer's disease is that they will lose something and they might be thinking that you've taken it. The best thing to do there is to have empathy with them. Say, "Well, obviously they lost something." Not argue, but say, "I'll try to help you find it."

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