About Alzheimer's


Living With Alzheimer's >> Behavior Basics | 04.28.15

Agitation: calming down an excitable situation

Becoming agitated or restless are common symptoms of people with dementia. This can be due to external factors, such as loud noises or crowded environments. Or the causes may be physical or emotional, such as hunger or boredom.

When a loved one becomes agitated, try to remain calm and assess the situation. You may be able to resolve the issue and help restore some peace of mind to both the agitated person and yourself.

Why is this happening?

Numerous things can trigger feelings of agitation and restlessness. Any of these potential sources could be a factor:

Too many people in a room

Loud environments



Hunger or thirst


Needing to use the bathroom

Temperature extremes

Uncomfortable clothing


Craving attention

Feelings of abandonment


How should you respond?

When you observe agitation or restlessness, assess the environment and see what external factors might be at work influencing the person’s behavior. Do certain things seem to be connected with these feelings, like the time of day or the weather? Has anything changed in the room that might upset the person? Don’t be hesitant to ask the person how they are feeling or if something is bothering them.

Ideally, over time, you will learn what specific circumstances tend to cause agitated feelings, allowing you to better predict and manage how you respond to these situations. Always try to stay calm in the face of these types of stressful encounters. If you can, walk away and take a moment to gather yourself. Remember to plan some time for yourself to relax each day so you are emotionally prepared to address the needs of the person with dementia.


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