Generally speaking, dementia is a term that’s used to refer to memory loss and changes in thinking that impact daily life. Imagine if you begin to experience changes in thinking and memory, it’s natural to assume you’d worry and feel anxious.
As many as three in four people with dementia may have some level of anxiety, which can cause behaviors such as pacing around the house, fidgeting or picking at clothing. It can also cause the individual to become fearful of people or places that were once familiar.
As a caregiver of a loved one with dementia, you can help them feel safe and calm in an increasingly confusing world. Some ways to help ease their anxiety include:
- Provide comfort by placing your hand on their arm or offering a hug.
- Respond to their feelings, not just to what they say.
- Remind them that they’re safe and you are there to help.
- Invite them to take a walk or do something they enjoy.
Learning what triggers anxiety can be one of the hardest parts of caring for someone with dementia. Once you think you know what prompted the anxiety, develop a plan to mitigate it in the future. If the first solution doesn’t work, try something else. You may need to try several things to find what will work best. Remember, something that may work one day may not work another day.
To keep anxiety at bay or prevent it from getting worse, here are a few suggestions to help work through these difficult situations:
- Follow a routine every day.
- Be matter of fact and comforting about what is causing fear.
- Don’t wait to act when you sense the person is becoming fearful.
Careful planning and preparation are essential to managing anxiety for someone with dementia. Download our Caregiver Tip Sheet on Anxiety.