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Tips to Minimize Agitation and Aggression in Parkinson's

Most patients with Parkinson's do not exhibit aggressive or combative traits regularly. However, there may be a time when your loved one becomes agitated, aggressive, or even combative. Many times, these are reactions to hallucinations those with Parkinson's may be having that are unsettling.

They are not necessarily a reaction to anything you are doing. Sometimes if these symptoms happen out of the blue, it might be wise to see if there could be any medical changes that need to be assessed, such as testing for a potential UTI or other infection.

Seeing your loved one in an agitated state can be quite alarming when it is abnormal behavior for your loved one. Immediately, our first reaction is to step in, reassure them of their safety and soothe them out of their hallucination. The most important thing to remember is your own safety.

If your loved one becomes agitated or aggressive suddenly, below are some tips to consider:

  • Provide space without crowding

  • Keep dangerous objects in secure locations

  • Talk calmly

  • Provide reassurance: "You are safe"

  • Keep your movements to a minimum

  • Ask how the person is feeling and his or her reason for being upset

  • Listen to the responses and comments

If your safety is threatened or you are concerned a loved one might harm him/herself, then you should call 911.

The most important thing we can do is to check our own reactions as care givers and stay calm. Reassure them without arguing that what they see is not there. Stepping into their world and trying to understand what they are seeing is very important. Automatically correcting them and telling them that nothing is there may agitate the situation. Validate what they are seeing. Ask questions about the experience. Then gently explain that you think they may be having a hallucination due to their medication. Calmly bring them back to reality without arguing or minimizing what they are seeing. Remember, in their mind, it is very real to them.


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