Patients with any dementia are much more sensitive to loud noises, be it music, loudspeakers, crowds, or whatever. Because their brains cannot cope with the noise, they become more agitated—resisting care, restless, not sleeping, more uncomfortable.
A review of dementia-related associations/agencies, finds they recommend: keep noise down!! For example, the Alzheimer’s Association states that noise can trigger agitation and delirium. The Lewey Body Dementia Association feels loud television noises may increase a patient’s paranoia—believing people in the next room are yelling at him, and creating more fear, anxiety, and difficult to manage behaviors.
Since we cannot cure any dementia, all we can do is try to control the problem behaviors.
Families can help by:
- Keeping TV volume down; if a patient’s ‘deafness’ causes them to crank up the sound, get them a headset; it will help them (and their roommate).
- Asking the nursing home to: discourage using overhead speakers, which can cause more paranoia (announcing meal menus and activities is of little benefit since most residents likely won’t remember it!); have staff turn off a TV when no one is watching (or is asleep!), and not leave TV blaring in the common areas (unless a group activity is using it).
- Choosing age-appropriate soothing music—NOT what younger staff might prefer!
Combining these changes with avoiding caffeine (which also increases agitation), will help dementia patients to rest better, enjoy what life they have left, and avoid sedating drugs or anti-psychotics.