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Scand J Caring Sci. 1997;11(3):176-82.

Music and other strategies to improve the care of agitated patients with dementia. Interviews with experienced staff.

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Department of Nursing, Göteborg University College of Health Sciences, Mölndal, Sweden.


Many patients with dementia symptoms display forms of agitation such as the repeating of words, restlessness and aggression. These forms of behaviour may inflict strain on the co-patients and the caregivers. In this study, 17 experienced formal caregivers from nursing homes and collective residential units were interviewed about their experiences of agitated patients with dementia and strategies to improve their care. The questions were open except for specific questions about sound, music, and opinions about pharmacological treatment. A calm atmosphere and a slow pace emerged as important strategies to control agitation. Fixed routines could develop this. The mixing of lucid and agitated dementia patients appeared as a major problem, because some lucid patients became angry when patients with dementia displayed agitation. Irritability in one patient could trigger agitation in other patients but was possible to stop at an early stage. Several responders had successfully used music to calm individual agitated patients. Music seemed to be an underestimated nursing intervention to control agitation in daily life, but uncontrolled sound could cause agitation in the patients and stress in the nursing staff.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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