Changes in Behaviour
Dementia can sometimes make life a very frightening and confusing time, people may be in pain, be feeling threatened or simply just bored, all of which will influence their behaviour.
Sometimes frustration and a sense of being out of control can make them act in a different way.
Reducing the likelihood of developing out of character behaviours
A sudden increase in someone’s agitation, confusion or level of distress may be the result of a physical health problem. This is why you may be advised to arrange a GP check-up in case there is anything which needs treatment. Common causes are some form of infection (urinary/chest), constipation or pain.
- Continue with social activities and relationships, and meaningful interests.
- Reduce excess noise, clutter of over stimulating environments.
- Ensure people still have access to familiar items or personal belongings.
Types of behaviour, some of the most common behaviours
Repetitive behaviour (saying the same thing, doing the same tasks, asking the same questions).
Shouting, screaming, using abusive language.
Hiding or hoarding (moving things around, not remembering to put things in their usual place).
Accusing (most common accusation is people are trying to steal from them or harm them).
Trailing or checking (following you around, needing to know where you are).
Losing inhibitions (being rude, undressing in public, inappropriate comments or behaviours).
- Saying “I want to go home” very common phrase used which may indicate a feeling of insecurity, memories of another home, confusion with surroundings. Some helpful guidance here – https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/blog/i-want-go-home-what-to-say-to-someone-in-dementia-care
Things which may help
Offer general reassurance – for example, they don’t need to worry about things as all the arrangements are in hand.
Encouraging talk about something they like talking about – for example, a period of time or an event they enjoyed.
- Try not to change their surroundings too drastically. Keep things familiar. Be prepared for some upset or changes when visiting an unfamiliar place.
- Is there a favourite TV programme you can have easy access too, the familiarity of the theme tune can calm.
- Create a memory box – perhaps ask another family member to do this with you.
- Create a playlist and encourage movement/dancing together.
- Move into another room/outside – just a change in environment can change a mood.
- Try not to question/disagree/become defensive – this may escalate the upset.
- Check they are not in pain, hungry, thirsty, needing the toilet or uncomfortable for some other reason
- Provide reassurance and a quiet, calming environment
- Activities that give pleasure and confidence – such as music or dancing
- Be tactful and patient
- Help the person find the answer themselves – for example, if they keep asking the time, buy an easy-to-read clock and keep it in a visible place
- Look for any underlying theme, such as the person believing they’re lost, and offer reassurance
- Offer general reassurance – for example, that they don’t need to worry about that things as all the arrangements are in hand
- Encourage someone to talk about something they like talking about – for example, a period of time or an event they enjoyed
- Provide plenty of activity and exposure to daylight during the day
- Make sure the bedroom is comfortable and provide a nightlight or blackout blinds according to the person’s needs
- Cut down on caffeine and alcohol in the evening
- Have the person with you if you’re doing chores such as ironing or cooking
- Reassure them that they’re safe and secure if they’re asking to go home
- Avoid telling them you’re not who they think you are or that someone died years ago – instead, talk to them about that period in their life.