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What to look for?

Restlessness | Common Signs

  • Fidgety and impatient in the late afternoon and early evening (called sundowning )
  • Wanders or paces around the home or outdoors
  • Has excess energy
  • Engages in repetitive motions (e.g. rocking or tapping)
  • Has difficulty falling asleep
  • Becomes distracted easily
  • Searches for things to occupy themselves with
  • Always wants to have company
  • Sits or looks out the window
Restlessness | General Description

The person you care for has probably spent most of their life occupied with different activities, such as work-related, household or recreational activities. As Alzheimer's disease progresses, they are less likely to be able to do the things they once did and, as a result, have fewer activities with which to occupy their time. The person you care for may be restless and impatient for a variety of reasons. They may be bored, they may have excess energy or they may be anxious about something. When they engage in repetitive motions such as pacing or tapping, fidgeting or wandering, these may be signs of restlessness.

In Frontotemporal dementia , hyperactive behaviour is exhibited by some patients, and can include agitation, pacing, wandering, outbursts of frustration, and aggression. This behaviour is purposeless activity.

An important type of restlessness is persistent, involuntary movement. This is known as akathisia, and can be a side effect of many medications. Confusingly for all concerned, persistent restlessness can be a side effect of medications used to treat restlessness, especially antipsychotics. Because of this, it is important to be especially careful when increased restlessness follows the start of a new medication.

The first step in taking a more active role in symptom management is understanding how a symptom is affecting everyday life; the next step is communicating this knowledge to the care planning team and family members. SymptomGuideTM is designed with these goals in mind.

See Also:
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Wandering
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Repetitive Behaviour
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Sundowning
Symptom Library > Personality Changes > Anxiety and Worry
Symptom Library > Personality Changes > Interest/Initiative (lack of)
About Dementia > Treatments for Dementia > Exercise
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Last updated January 13, 2019
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