About Alzheimer's

Anxiety and Worries

Living With Alzheimer's >> What They're Feeling | 04.24.15

Anxiety and Worries: the potential for fear

A diagnosis of dementia is uniquely troubling for a person. It signals a future of uncertainty and inevitable decline, putting the plans of a well-ordered life in disarray. Little wonder it is a source of anxiety, worry and fear.

Caregivers and loved ones share these feelings, since they are usually unprepared for the life-changing consequences of caring for someone with dementia. Here, education is key. The more you know about what’s ahead, the better you will be prepared emotionally when it is time to provide needed support.

Why is this happening?

Many symptoms can lead to fear and worry in those with dementia. Review the causes below to help understand what might be behind feelings of anxiety in a person:

Depression
Hallucinations/Delusions
Pain
Physical needs (hunger, thirst, urge to urinate)
Emotional needs (loneliness, desire for attention)
Physical ailments (urinary tract infection, fever, etc.)
Reaction to medication

How should you respond?

Alert your doctor as to potential causes of anxiety in a person with dementia. Your physician may have effective treatments to help minimize persistent fears.

When attempting to calm a fearful person, always provide constant reassurance that things are OK. They may be afraid of abandonment when you leave their presence, so remind them that you will be back.

Strange or unfamiliar people and surroundings can cause fear and confusion. Fear of the dark and concern about being left alone are also common. Do what you can to provide a firm, consistent presence that offers your loved one a sense of security and stability. The key is to create a trusting environment where the person feels secure.

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