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Understanding restlessness, Alzheimer's disease

Many times, persons with Alzheimer's disease will have excess energy, which can result in restlessness and wandering, according to www.caregiverslibrary.org.

These behaviors can create difficulties for caregivers. Restlessness can involve fidgeting and an inability to stay interested in activities. Wandering can be very dangerous for seniors whose cognitive abilities are impaired, and can be a symptom of anxiety as well as dementia. It can also be a side effect of some prescription medications.

If the person being cared for begins to exhibit signs of restlessness or is starting to wander they should be seen by a healthcare professional immediately. She may make recommendations as simple as eliminating caffeine, or may feel prescription medications, like anti-anxiety drugs, are the best course of action. Keep in mind there is no one perfect solution, and a variety of remedies may need to be explored.

Here are some steps caregivers can take to help manage restlessness and wandering:

• Make sure care receivers get regular exercise

• Limit the number of naps they take

• Serve a larger meal at mid-day, with the evening meal the smallest of the day

• Examine wandering habits to determine a pattern

• Explore different distractions for when wandering occur.

Have a plan in place in case the care receiver wanders away. The Vital Link packets available from the Office for the Aging suggest inclusion of a current photograph to help identify potential wanderers. Invest in Medic-Alert bracelets as well.

Other tips include locking and bolting doors, and putting bells on doors as well for occasions when locking them is impractical. Also, make sure they are comfortable, and limit changes in the house. A consistent, familiar environment can go far in preventing restlessness and wandering.

For more information contact the Caregiver Resource Center, BHSN 565-4543 or 565-4625.

The Senior Connection is a column provided by the Clinton County Office for the Aging. For more information about services for senior citizens, contact their office at 135 Margaret St., Suite 105, Plattsburgh or call them at 565-4620.

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