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Dementia-related behaviours and how you can help

Most people living with dementia undergo behavioural changes during the course of the disease. They may become anxious or repeat the same question or activity over and over. As the disease progresses, your loved one’s behaviour may seem inappropriate, childlike or impulsive. This can be distressing for both the person living with dementia and those who care for them.

Some common changes in behaviour include:

1: Repeating the same question or activity over and over again – this can be very frustrating for the carer, but it’s important to remember that the person isn’t being deliberately difficult.

Try to:

  • be tactful and patient
  • help the person find the answer themselves
  • offer general reassurance
  • encourage someone to talk about something they like talking about 

2: Restlessness – pacing up and down, wandering, fidgeting.

Try to

  • make sure the person has plenty to eat and drink
  • have a daily routine, including daily walks
  • accompany them on a walk or perhaps a tracking system to keep them safe
  • give them something to occupy their hands if they fidget a lot

3: Sleep disturbance – Dementia can cause problems with the person’s body clock, or sleep-wake cycle, which can impact on carers if they have disturbed sleep.

Try to:

  • provide plenty of activity and exposure to daylight during the day
  • have an easy to read or talking clock in a prominent position
  • ensure the bedroom is comfortable and perhaps have blackout blinds
  • cut down on caffeine and alcohol in the evening

4: Following a partner or carer around – Dementia can make people feel insecure and anxious, they need reassurance they’re not alone and they’re safe. They may also ask for people who died many years ago, or ask to go home without realising they’re in their own home.

Try to:

  • include the person if you’re undertaking household chores
  • reassure them that they’re safe and secure if they’re asking to go home
  • avoid telling them someone died years ago, as this may cause further upset and confusion- maybe talk to them about that period in their life

5: Loss of self-confidence – this may show as apathy or disinterest in their usual activities or people they usually enjoy.

Try to:

  • remember it may not be the activity they have lost interest in, it may be they feel they can’t cope with it
  • reassure them the activity, or getting there, will be straightforward
  • explain clearly who they may be seeing
  • consider simpler activities or smaller social occasions with fewer people

Remember that these behaviours may be a result of frustration at not being able to communicate how they’re feeling.

Behavioural changes can be difficult to deal with, it can help to work out if there are any triggers.

Time of the day?
Are you in a noisy and busy environment?
Are you asking for something to be done?
Is it connected to a particular task?
Are there too many people asking questions?

Abicare’s flexible live-in care service can provide immediate support in the comfort of your own home. Learn more about live-in care or get in touch today to find out how we can help you.