Individuals with dementia who still possess an awareness of their condition may experience profound anxiety. If your loved one has vascular or frontotemporal dementia, they are at a higher risk of anxiety; however, anxiety is less common in those with Alzheimer’s. Regardless, anxiety can compound your loved one’s already vulnerable state. Here, we list 8 strategies used by memory care in Orange Park, FL to help relieve anxiety for residents with dementia.
Symptoms of Anxiety
First, let’s look at how anxiety presents itself in dementia patients. There is often a range of psychological symptoms to look out for, which include:
- Feelings of fatigue
- A general sense of “uneasiness” that your loved one might be unable to explain or pinpoint a cause for
- Inability to concentrate
Physical symptoms can include:
- Heart palpitations or a quickened heart rate
- Shortness of breath
You should also look out for behavioral changes in your loved one. They might start constantly asking for reassurance or be terrified of being left alone. They might suddenly become more agitated or begin hoarding or display signs of restlessness.
Strategies for Coping with Anxiety
Depending on the severity and your loved one’s needs, there are a variety of strategies that memory care programs use to help their residents cope with anxiety:
- Providing a listening ear. For those with mild anxiety, simply providing a listening ear can help with easing their worries and providing reassurance. Paying attention to what a resident is anxious about can also help resolve the issue. For instance, if a resident is afraid of losing their balance and falling while going about their daily activities, team members can encourage exercise that builds physical strength.
- Crafting a familiar routine with stimulating and meaningful activities can help provide something to look forward to for residents.
- Providing a safe and relaxing physical environment with soothing design elements and heightened accessibility in which residents feel able to relax.
- Certain individuals may require medication, although this should first be discussed with a doctor. If prescribed medication, memory care programs can help administer these medications to residents safely and effectively.
- For those with more advanced anxiety, psychological therapy such as talk therapy can be beneficial. Music therapy might also help to reduce agitation.
- Catered dining programs for residents who frequently wander or are unable to focus on mealtimes can also help with anxiety. Meditative dining programs allow residents the space to enjoy their meals in a stress-free environment, with assistance provided if required. A nutritious diet can also help balance your loved one’s emotional state.
- Focusing on our residents’ strengths instead of weaknesses, and emphasizing and supporting these throughout the program can also help manage anxiety. Many individuals’ anxiety can either stem from or be compounded by a sense of inferiority. When we highlight their strengths, we help them feel more capable in their daily life, which in turn helps build confidence.
- Emphasize friendship and social connections. Having a strong network of peers surrounding them can help relieve your loved one’s anxiety. Dealing with the effects of dementia can be difficult alone – having a community around them is thus invaluable.