Anxiety in dementia may be caused by physiological disorders, changes in the environment accompanied by the inability to process complex information, interactions between drugs or simply by boredom. In order to prevent anxiety, a person with dementia has to be provided with the right amount of stimuli – not too much, not too little. It is important to make the person with dementia feel more secure, e.g. by making sure the environment is familiar and understandable to him/her. Sometimes special anxiety-reducing drugs may be necessary. Anxiety caused by depression can be alleviated using anti-depressants.
Good advice for handling anxiety:
- Try to find the cause of the anxiety.
- If the anxiety is not too serious, try to alleviate it – perhaps by putting your arm around the person.
- Try to provide a distraction by doing something else, such as going for a walk or taking a coffee break!
- If anxiety is exhibited by agitation, find a way to channel the person’s energy, e.g. by performing a physical exercise or an engaging activity.
- Do not ignore or deny the person’s feelings and do not leave the person to himself/herself, as this may cause the anxiety to intensify.