20 Nov 2015

How To Handle The Behaviour Changes Of Someone With Dementia

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When a loved one is suffering from dementia it can be tough to adjust to their illness. Dementia causes certain behavioural changes that may make it seem like your loved one is drastically different than they once were. The person suffering from dementia may experience sudden mood swings and lash out at you.


Handling a loved one’s behaviour changes isn’t easy but there are ways to cope without making them feel threatened.

Why does dementia cause mood changes?

When someone is plagued with dementia, it is hard to predict exactly what is causing their mood transformations because there are so many factors involved. The medication your loved one is on to treat their dementia may be responsible for some of their erratic behaviour. Sudden mood changes can also be the reaction to ailments that traditionally accompany dementia such as urinary tract infections and fever. Fatigue, dehydration and constipation can further bring about mood shifts along with location changes and over-stimulation, such as too many visitors at once. Everyday tasks like getting dressed and eating can initiate behaviour issues as well.

What can you do help?

When your loved one has dementia it can be hard for them to sometimes understand their surroundings or follow simple instructions. They may have problems communicating and become frustrated with you and themselves. In order to help them feel comfortable, try the following:

  • Limit selection – sometimes too many choices such as what to wear or eat can become overwhelming
  • Stay calm – the calmer you are, the easier time your loved one will have understanding you
  • Be patient – even if you have to explain things over and over again to the person, patience will pay off because eventually your loved one will process your request
  • Take it slow – initiate change slowly, especially if your loved one is moving to a long-term care facility
  • Do not aggravate them further – when someone is suffering from dementia they often do not like to be touched, do not grab your loved one to get them to calm down for they can hurt you without meaning to
  • Don’t take it personally – your loved one is not trying to make you upset, they are suffering from an illness that is taking over their mind, and they do not mean most of the hurtful things they say

Dealing with a loved one’s unstable behaviour can be taxing but remember that you are doing them a great service by remaining a part of their life as they battle dementia. For more information about this illness and how you can help your loved one further, contact our expert team.

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