Managing Changes in Behavior of a Person With Dementia

Gradually, a person diagnosed with dementia may show signs of troubling, unusual, and unpredictable behavior. For example, a person with dementia may become excessively anxious around people they don’t recognize or in situations that are stray from their established routines. This may gradually result in them socially withdrawing or becoming angry and aggressive.

Here are some pointers to help you cope with troubling behavior changes in a loved one dealing with dementia.

Troubling Behavior Changes In A Person With Dementia

Usually towards the middle or late stages of most types of dementia, an individual will gradually start behaving differently. This can be substantially difficult for both the person with dementia and their caregivers to deal with.

Here are some troubling behavioral changes a person with dementia may begin exhibiting:

  • A person diagnosed with dementia may repeat the same question, phrase, or words while speaking over and over again.
  • They may grow restless. For example, they may suddenly start pacing up and down their homes or wander outside in an agitated state of mind.
  • Dementia may create disturbances in the person’s sleep cycle. They may wake up at odd hours in the night, unaware that it’s late.
  • People who have dementia may “shadow” their caregiver or partner’s behaviors to seek reassurance that they aren’t alone and are safe in their environment.
  • They may withdraw socially due to stress, a loss of self-esteem, or paranoia.
  • Aggressiveness can also develop towards the later stages of dementia, where the individual experiences increased aggression, agitation, delusions, and sometimes even hallucinations.

How To Manage Behavioral Changes In A Loved One With Dementia

If your loved one is suffering from dementia, here are some tips to help you manage his or her behavior.

Be Comforting

Agitation and aggressiveness can develop in the later stages of dementia. During this period, you must try comforting the person. You can do this by playing soft and calming music, going through old photo albums together, reading a book, going out for a walk, or doing any of their favorite activities.

Try talking about the past because a person with dementia is more likely to remember older events than new ones. Relaying old stories can be a source of comfort and put their mind at ease.

Be Reassuring

Reassuring a loved one with dementia can make dealing with their diagnosis much more relaxing. Even if they don’t respond, be consistent about it.

Avoid Criticism

Avoid being too critical or confrontational when your loved one shows signs of aggression or anger. Don’t criticize their behavior, and avoid arguing with them. This may worsen their state of anger, irritation, and aggressiveness. Another approach is to change the topic of conversation or move to an entirely different activity.

Identify Their Trigger Points

Another helpful method to deal with a loved one’s behavior changes is identifying certain “trigger” points. Make note of words, situations, or actions that trigger troubling or inappropriate behavior. Keep track of such behavior to avoid triggering it in the future.

Adapt To Their Method Of Communication

Communicating with a loved one with dementia can be difficult sometimes. To make things easier, try adapting to the methods they use to communicate. Understand the gestures and words they use to communicate. Don’t force a method of communication onto them, such as raising your voice or speaking in an exaggeratedly slow manner if they don’t understand you. This will only humiliate and potentially anger them, causing greater frustration for you both.

Remember, certain troubling behaviors like irritation, agitation, and aggression can be signs that the person has a need but can’t find the words to express themself. Just as keeping up with triggers can be helpful, noticing behavioral patterns that a person exhibits when they are hungry or tired can help you pick up on those same cues in the future.

Patience Is Key

A loved one dealing with dementia may take time to express their needs and desires. During this process, you must remain patient, loving, and empathetic. Try offering some words or suggestions that can help them express themselves better.


Dealing with dementia is not easy; for the person diagnosed with it and for their caregivers, family, or loved ones. It’s important to remember that the person with dementia is not deliberately trying to be difficult.

Applying these simple pointers can ease the stress your loved one is going through and improve their well-being significantly.

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