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Agitation is not a random behavior. It results from underlying distress experienced
by the elderly person. This distress can stem from cognitive impair-ment, psychiatric and medical disorders, and functional
The existing literature strongly suggests that deficits in cognitive function are
the most important factors predisposing individuals to agitation. Cohen-Mansfield et all found that the degree of cognitive
is correlated with the type of agitated behavior.
Individuals with severe cognitive impair-ment manifested aggressive behaviors and physically
nonaggressive behaviors to an equal degree.
Individuals with intermediate impairment had a higher level of nonaggressive behaviors.
Individuals with higher cognitive status exhibited verbally agitated behaviors more frequently.
Medical illnesses (eg, upper respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections,
constipation, and chronic pain) in cognitively impaired individuals commonly result in agitated behavior that ranges from
mild to severe forms of delirium.