Severe Agitation in Dementia: An Explorative Secondary Data Analysis on the Prevalence and Associated Factors in Nursing Home Residents [2018]

The phenomena of severe agitation is not well understood and often not adequately treated.

This article determines the prevalence and associated factors of severe agitation in nursing home residents with dementia.

Secondary data analysis within an observational study in German nursing homes with n = 1,967 participants. We assessed severity of agitation with the Neuropsychiatric Inventory Questionnaire (NPI-Q) and defined the construct of agitation as a composite score of the NPI-Q items agitation/aggression, disinhibition, and irritability/lability; the dependent variable of severe agitation was considered as being present in residents who scored ‘severe’ in at least one of these symptoms. A binary logistic regression model was calculated to estimate associations.

The prevalence of severe agitation was 6.3% (n = 124). The strongest associations were found for elation/euphoria (OR 7.6, CI 3.1–18.5), delusions (OR 7.3, CI 4.0–13.2), apathy/indifference (OR 2.8, CI 1.7–4.7), anxiety (OR 2.2, CI 1.2–3.8), nighttime behaviors (OR 2.4, CI 1.4–4.2), motor disturbances (OR 2.4, CI 1.4–4.1), and male sex (OR 2.4. CI 1.3–4.2).

Severe agitation in nursing home residents with dementia is a relevant clinical issue as approximately 70% of residents have a dementia. Residents with elation/euphoria and delusions may have a stronger risk of showing severe agitation. We consider delusions as a possible cause of agitation and therefore a prelude to agitation. Although it might be possible that elation/euphoria follows from agitation, we hypothesize that the residents first experience elation/ euphoria and exhibit agitation afterwards.

Palm, Rebecca | Sorg, Christian G.G. | Ströbel, Armin | Gerritsen, Debby L. | Holle, Bernhard
Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Vol. 66, No. 4, 2018
DOI: 10.3233/JAD-180647