Handling Senior Dementia Behavior



It can be challenging when attitudes and behaviors start to change in this person you have known so well and loved for so long. Sometimes it can be like they are a totally different person, and this can require a great deal of patience. Maybe more than you know that you possess. Dementia is a dynamic disease, the condition will constantly develop. There is a spectrum of behaviors associated with dementia, and it is best to understand and adapt to the specific behaviors of your loved one and use the best approach.

Memory care facilities and assisted living communities are always an option, but many seniors would like to live with their loved one for as long as it is still possible before having to make that decision. At first, any changes in behavior may seem frightening and confusing, but we will provide several key tips for dealing with a senior loved one’s dementia behavior at home.

These tips are meant to help you retain as much of the lifestyle and partnership the two of you have been used to for many years.


You don’t have to necessarily do it alone either. Keep in mind that care can be a team effort, not simply babysitting. It is always best if you can solve a problem together. As the brain becomes more and more compromised, this will not always work. There may come a point where almost all of a loved one’s decision making will be up to you, and perhaps to the point of making the tough decision for memory care facilities as the next step.


Identify causes / triggers of worsening behavior

-It is true that little is known about what exactly causes Alzheimer’s disease in seniors in itself. However, at certain stages of dementia there may be specific situations, circumstances, or even objects that serve as triggers to cause bad dementia episodes that may lead to hysteria.

-Sometimes the behavior of a senior with dementia is more embarrassing or disruptive rather than harmful. It is wise to avoid correcting or reprimanding a senior with dementia when a circumstance is not critical to avoid the risk of escalating the situation or creating more confusion. Often times a senior with dementia may not even have realized the mistake they’ve made and may be incapable of appreciating how to correct it.


Do Any Patterns Indicate Behavioral Problems? 

  • If and when an episode occurs, once it has been resolved it may be good to evaluate what happened and try to look for what factors were involved in the problem. They may be obvious, like turning off the television leading to protest. They may also be subtler, like the time of day, weather conditions, or amount of darkness in the room for instance.
  • Try to be aware of the household environment conditions at all times. Change can be uncomfortable for dementia patients, and you may not realize the impact that a strange new smell or noisy new stimuli can induce on the ease of a senior with dementia’s mind.


Be As Understanding As Possible

  • Do as much as you can to validate the feelings of your senior loved one with dementia. They may no longer be in the position to make their own daily living decisions, and it may not be wise to correct or argue with them. However, a senior with dementia is still very much an emotional being, sometimes doubly so. It is important at this point to do all you can to demonstrate your empathy and show them that you are treating them with dignity, respect, and love.
  • You will be creating a new routine with them, and whether they remember you or even appreciate you as much as they should, you must do all you can to present positive, reassuring stimuli into their world.
  • Your body language and tone of voice will often communicate more information to a senior with dementia than anything you actually say. You must do as much as you can to be mindful of this even in the midst of the most stressful confrontations or inevitable dementia episodes. By being understanding and emotionally supportive, you are equipping yourself for an easier job overall.
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