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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

  • Restlessness (fidgeting, pacing, agitation)
  • Repetitive Behaviour (saying the same thing, doing the same tasks, asking the same questions)
  • Shouting, Screaming, Using abusive language
  • Walking
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Sundowning (when a person shows an increase in distress specifically in the late afternoon/early evening)
  • Hiding or Hoarding (moving things around, not remembering to put things in their usual place)
  • Accusing (most commonly that people are trying to steal from them or harm them)
  • Trailing or Checking (people following you around, needing to know where you are)
  • Losing Inhibitions (being rude, undressing in public, inappropriate comments or behaviours)

Things which may help

  • 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