By Jennifer Devinney, RPh, PharmD Agitation and aggression in elderly residents with cognitive disorders can be a common occurrence in long term care settings. Recently, there has been research published evaluating the role of untreated or undertreated pain in residents with dementia and the potential impact of proper treatment. Residents with Alzheimer’s disease are reported to have an incidence of agitation approaching 80 percent. Furthermore, agitation and aggression are leading causes of institutionalization in older people with dementia. The source of the agitation or aggression in the residents may not be entirely known; however, what is known is that dementia causes a biological change in an individual, which affects and impairs their ability to process new information and stimuli. As a result, their ability to communicate effectively about what is bothering them is inhibited. When a resident is experiencing agitation or aggression, there are a number of factors that should be evaluated from the environment to daily routines or perhaps most importantly comfort and pain.
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