Activities are Effective for Treatment of Agitation

Published: June 12, 2014

A growing number of studies show that activities are generally more effective than medications in the treatment of agitation in older adults, particularly those with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other kinds of memory loss. Here are some examples of simple, evidence-based activities that can help reduce agitation in an older adult:

  • Softly sing their favorite tunes while providing care.
  • Play calm, gentle music before bedtime.
  • Offer him/her a basket of “wonders” to touch and hold that provide a calming sensory experience. These items can be things like bows, plush, velvet etc. If you want the activity to be a happy reminiscing experience, use family photos and other items that help them remember happy events of their past.  TIP: Keep the basket in the same place so that it is easy for them to find. Or, have several in different areas of the home.
  • Play a CD with familiar sounds like children playing, songs from an old radio, a cat meowing, rain falling etc.
  • Gently massage their hands and/or feet.
  • Fill a clear plastic jar with water and small colored items like shells, coins or buttons. Close it tightly. Encourage them to shake the jar gently and look at the items as they move around.

Also consider simple repetitive tasks such as:

  • Tearing old newspapers
  • Popping bubble wrap
  • Sorting out different shapes of uncooked pasta into separate bowls
  • Rolling yarn
  • Light chores like dusting

These tasks are outlets for frustration, but also make them feel useful. Therefore, they not only help reduce agitation, but also increase their sense of purpose and self-esteem.

Source: Alzheimer’s Care Guide, Lorena Tonarelli

Scroll To TopBack to top