How long does it take an Alzheimer's patient to adjust to new environment?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 13, 2016
Carolina daughter asked...

My dad was placed in VA approved adult home care 4 days ago. Before that, he was becoming increasingly more agitated/aggressive/angry each day from mid-afternoon until he went to bed. My mom couldn't take care of him anymore, so he was placed in the home, which has access to hospice nurses & doctors. Of the 4 days there, he has had the agitated/aggressive behavior earlier in the day & for longer periods 3 of the 4 days he has been there. He is currently on Lorazepam (every 2 hours) & has also started Seraquil for anxiety. I know an unfamiliar environment will increase the anxiety, but what is the "average" length of time it takes an advanced Alzheimer's patient to adjust to a new environment? The caregiver & hospice have told my mom she needs to stay away for at least 2 weeks so Dad can bond with the new caregivers. I also wonder if those medications may actually be making this behavior worse than better.

Expert Answers

Ladislav Volicer, M.D., Ph.D., is recognized as an international expert on advanced dementia care. He is a courtesy full professor at the School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, and visiting professor at the Third Medical Faculty, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. Twenty-five years ago, he established one of the first dementia special care units.

There is no specific time that adjusting to new environment would take in all people. I think that your father needs better psychiatric evaluation and management. Anxiety is most likely a symptom of depression and he might benefit from an antidepressant treatment. Lorazepam sometimes increases confusion and can cause falls. Seraquel has other side-effects and belong to antipsychotic class of drugs that should be used only as a last resort. Is your father taking a cholinesterase inhibitor (e.g., Aricept) and Namenda? They may be helpful as well. The most important is involvement of your father in meaningful activities. His agitation may be caused by boredom. As far as your mother staying away, it depends on what happens during her visits. If your father calms down, then visits are useful.

Community Answers

Bless caregivers answered...

As a caregiver to my brother with Alzheimer's I am sure the decision making of "when to place" must have been a difficult one for your mom and you. I am sure this transition is hard for you both, as well as your dad. I'm not a professional, "just a caregiver" for 5 years now, so, my thoughts are my experiences, what I have witnessed on my home turf. My brother resides with me and this has become his comfort zone. This was a long and challenging time due to brother/sister dynamics from the past and his long term memory still intact. I can relate to what your mom was going thru, I have heard more no than yes, witness more negativity than positivity, part of the disease progression I've heard, but his old personality at times, always lovingly accepted. Back to your dilemma, don't forget this is an adjustment for him, you both as well, and will take time. Can one tell you how much? I think not, it's more of his acceptance, perhaps an old memory fading. My brother went thru a difficult time in the beginning of this dreadful disease, alone and 1000 miles away wasn't working, but it took time on his part to accept the new normal, learning and patience on mine, a lot. A 2 week adjustment period, as the facility is suggesting seems reasonable, short really, I know some that state a month, which seems too long. I've heard good and bad regarding meds, taking the edge off I get, over meds I don't, so, guess it's all about the right need for your dad. Don't hesitate or be afraid to ask questions and continue to educate yourself about any and everything. Find your comfort zone in "just stopping in." Sounds like you and your mom are involved, certainly caring and loving. Don't let anyone alter your course either, you know him, his old self. This is a transition for all of you, go easy on yourself, hard for us caregivers to do at times. We do the best we can. God Bless You