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Medications used to manage agitation & other behaviors associated with dementia may result in a less than optimum outcome & can have troublesome side effects. When possible, a safer, kinder alternative is to create a calm environment, keep the person engaged in meaningful activities, & ensure that the person's sense of self worth and dignity is recognized & protected.

agitation triggers
caregiver tips for a calmer day

People with dementia experience the world differently than we do due to neurological changes. Their sensitivity to the environment can be extreme and their interpretation of what they see and hear can be distorted. Low stress thresholds are common; for example, something as simple as a loud TV can be overwhelming. They often misinterpret what they see and frightening hallucinations can trigger a major upset. Common triggers include environmental conditions, boredom, over-stimulation, physical pain, medical issues, medications, and tasks that are too complicated for the person's current abilities.

In their own words:

"Sometimes the sound of the radio makes my head almost scream...and my brow starts twitching. It really increases the confusion in my brain and I have difficulty processing my thoughts."

"Showering tends to overload my brain.......the onslaught of the water on my body...and the noise."

"There are people in the room. I am not undressing in front of them! Are you crazy?" (person referring to images in a photograph)

Hope for a Calmer Day

There is hope for a calmer day if you can learn to see the world through their eyes. This takes training - and you can start here, where you'll find explanations and advice from others who have been there before and are willing to share strategies that worked for them.

Not everyone is bothered by the same stimuli or events, so the first step is to find out what's upsetting the person you care for. Then you can remove the trigger(s) and the associated agitation. You'll both experience less stress and, hopefully, a calmer day.

4 Essential Resources

5 Common Environmental Triggers

To learn about five common environmental triggers - and what you can do about them – click here.

Videos on Agitation - Problems & Solutions

Dementia experts from across the country offer pearls of wisdom on how you can deal with behavioral challenges caused by a variety of situations.

Interaction with the caregiver is a common source of agitation. Here you'll learn how a friendly approach, attitude, and tone of voice can dramatically reduce dementia-related agitation. See our videos in the column on the right.

Simple Activities to Reduce Challenging Behaviors

Read and watch videos on how simple dementia-friendly activities can reduce challenging behaviors and help bring more enjoyment - and less stress - into the person's life and your own.

Comprehensive Behavioral Handout

For more information on general behavioral changes by the Alzheimer's Association, including paranoia and side effects of medication, click here.


3 Helping Techniques

Caregiver Influences


Communication Tips

Sudden Mood Changes

Getting Them To Help


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