Caring for a loved one living with Dementia can be a deeply rewarding experience, filled with moments of connection and compassion. Yet, amidst the day-to-day care, families and care partners often encounter a multitude of challenging behaviours that can be difficult to anticipate and emotionally taxing to manage.

These behaviours, which can range from agitation and aggression to wandering and incontinence-related actions, are not only taxing on the care partner but also potentially dangerous for the individual living with Dementia.

In this in-depth guide, we will explore the common challenging behaviours in people living with Dementia, their underlying causes, and a variety of strategies and solutions to address and cope with these behaviours.

Common Challenging Behaviours in People Living with Dementia

Below are some examples of behaviours people living with Memory Loss might exhibit.

  • Aggression and Agitation:

    Anxiety and confusion can quickly lead to agitation and aggression. This can manifest in verbal or physical outbursts, irritability, and restlessness.

  • Sundowning:

    Sundowning refers to a pattern of increased agitation and confusion that begins in the late afternoon and continues into the night, often leading to sleep disturbances and pacing.

  • Wandering:

    Wandering can pose significant risks, including falls, getting lost, or encountering unsafe situations. It is often a response to restlessness or attempting to fulfill an unmet need.

  • Hallucinations and delusions:

    Auditory or visual hallucinations can expand into delusions as a person may experience a “different reality”. These hallucinations may be a direct or indirect side effect of the medications and the disease.

  • Repetitive Behaviours:

    Individuals with Dementia may repeatedly ask the same question, make the same gesture, or perform the same action, which can be frustrating for the care partner and may signify an unmet need for reassurance or response.

  • Incontinence-Related Behaviours:

    Incontinence can trigger behaviours such as hiding soiled items or refusing to use the toilet, often due to a lack of awareness or understanding of their bodily changes.

Understanding the Underlying Causes

Understanding the manifestations of these behaviours and their triggers is crucial in developing a comprehensive care plan.

  • Cognitive decline and changes in brain function
  • Communication difficulties
  • Physical discomfort or pain
  • Environmental factors
  • Unmet needs and unfulfilled desires

Strategies for Managing Challenging Behaviours

  • Communication Techniques:

    Clear communication can minimize misunderstandings and reduce the likelihood of frustration-induced behaviours. In addition, listening to the individual’s concerns and expressing empathy can provide comfort and reassurance, potentially preventing an escalation of challenging behaviours.

  • Environmental Modifications:

    For some people living with Dementia, crowded places, loud noises, and bright lights can lead to agitation and confusion. A quiet, peaceful environment can promote a sense of calm, which is crucial in managing behaviours like agitation and aggression.

  • Routine and Consistency:

    Routines can provide a sense of safety and predictability, which individuals living with Dementia often find comforting. Engaging in activities that the individual enjoys can help to ground them and redirect their energy in a positive manner.

  • Validation Therapy:

    Validation therapy is designed to allow the person living with Dementia to work through their symptoms and challenging behaviours. When challenging behaviours arise, gently shifting the focus to positive and engaging activities can often help to alleviate the behaviour.

  • Medication Management:

    In some cases, medication may be necessary to manage particularly severe or persistent challenging behaviours. Always consult a healthcare professional for guidance.

  • Exploring Alternative Therapies:

    Non-pharmacological interventions such as music therapy, pet therapy, or aromatherapy can be effective adjuncts to managing behaviours without the need for medication.

Remember: Each Individual Is Unique

Recognizing the uniqueness of each person living with Dementia is pivotal. What works for one individual may not work for another. While medication and non-pharmacological strategies can be similar in some cases, there is not a standardized treatment plan. Care partners should learn to tailor their approach based on the individual’s needs, preferences, and triggers.

Get Expert Support by Contacting Memory & Company Today

The friendly and experienced Team Members at Memory & Company invite you on a personal tour of our Markham or Oakville locations. Our Respite Care programs are provided in a safe and hospitable environment.

If you’re finding it difficult to manage the challenging behaviours of a loved one living with Dementia, don’t hesitate to reach out for expert assistance. Call us at (905) 888-8808 / 1-866-452-1394 or email for more information.