Anxiety is a common side effect associated with dementia. As memory wanes, it can become frightening and disconcerting when your parent is no longer able to remember a place or person, or find the right words that once came so easily. Anxiety and agitation ensue, increasing the possibility of wandering or lashing out.
As a family caregiver, you can take the time spent with your parent to observe what seems to increase their anxiety. Like a detective looking for coincidental clues, keep a weathered eye out for what seems to agitate your parent. Is it a certain time? Do certain noises occur during the day that starts a sense of panic? Is there an activity or a place that prompts an increase in anxiety? When your parent is feeling better, have a quiet discussion with them—they may just be able to share some of the frustration they’re feeling and what prompts it.
Once you’ve determined specific triggers, alter your loved one’s environment to produce a more relaxed frame of mind. This may mean that some people would be better off calling than visiting, or that the TV would be better left off. Dusk can be a particularly trying time for your parent as shadows descend. If you’ve noticed this occurring, try turning on the lights in their home before sunset and make sure that their home is well lit. Once you’ve created the best environment possible for them, try these relaxation techniques.
A simple relaxation technique is to focus on the breath and to breathe deeply. The increase in oxygen prompts a relaxation response in the brain. Lie down on your back and place your hands over your stomach. Begin by taking a deep breath in to the count of three, feeling the abdomen rise beneath your hands, hold for a minute before letting the breath out to a count of three. Repeat for approximately 10 minutes.
Yoga and Tai Chi
These activities are good for both the body and the mind. You may be concerned about your parent’s ability to perform these activities, but many classes are designed specifically for seniors and for those with limited mobility and even specifically for those suffering from dementia. Check the local senor community center or Area Agency on Aging for possible class locations. If your loved one is more comfortable at home, there are several DVDs available on these forms of exercise and mindful awareness techniques. Be sure to check with your parent’s primary health
care provider before including one of these in your parent’s schedule.
Art / Music or Massage Therapy
What do these three varying therapies have in common? They take your parent’s mind off worries and concerns and keep it focused on the therapy at hand. Art and music therapy have proven very beneficial for those suffering from dementia. There are classes in both that are geared to those with this disease. Massage therapy has also been shown to bring peace of mind. This could be as simple as a gentle hand, arm or shoulder massage with soothing natural aromatherapy oils.
Elderly Care Provider
The company and companionship of an elderly care provider can ease a loved one’s anxiety. Distraction is a great tool when calming a troubled mind. These professionals can play easy card games, take relaxing walks in nature, play gentle, calming music and help your parent through the challenging days that lie ahead.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elderly care in Papillion, NE, please contact the caring staff at Seniors Helping Seniors® Greater Omaha at (402) 215-0308 today.