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Non-Pharmacological Interventions for Dementia Patients Experiencing Agitation

By Beata Prendergast

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Background: Several studies suggest that nonpharmacological interventions are preferred for first-line therapy when managing symptoms such as agitation associated with dementia. Patients experiencing dementia most likely develop behavioral symptoms throughout the course of their illnesses. These symptoms include agitation, which affects their quality of life. Current pharmacological treatment modalities are not always effective, and thus the significant shift to address agitation through non-pharmacological interventions is necessary.

Objectives: The purpose of this integrative literature was to explore the various research studies that have been conducted regarding several non-pharmacological interventions that can be beneficial in managing the dementia individual experiencing agitation.

Method: An integrative literature review guided by Whittemore and Knalf (2005) framework was conducted using CINAHL, PubMed, and ProQuest Nursing & Allied Health Source, to synthesize and organize the research. A search was conducted using these terms: “dementia” and “agitation” and “non-pharmacological” or “pharmacological interventions”, “geriatric patient”, “agitation”, “dementia”, “music”, “animal assist”, “aromatherapy”, “exercise”, “snoezelen”, and “evidence-based”.

Results: Five studies met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Nonpharmacological interventions for older agitated dementia individuals were discovered in the literature, that were most beneficial, these included: snoezelen, music, aromatherapy, animal-assisted, and exercise therapies. Performing these interventions has proven to be beneficial in behavioral outcomes for patients experiencing agitation associated with dementia.

Conclusion: Current research revealed the significant impact of non-pharmacological interventions as being necessary and beneficial in the dementia individual experiencing agitation. Considering these non-pharmacological therapies could vastly improve behavioral and psychological health outcomes among the elderly population with dementia experiencing agitation.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date August 2017
Conference Title Grace Peterson Nursing Research Colloquium
Format Pptx
URL https://via.library.depaul.edu/nursing-colloquium/2017/Summer_2017/33/
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted therapies
  3. Animal roles
  4. Dementia
  5. Gerontology
  6. Interventions
  7. open access
  1. open access