Changes in behaviour

As a person’s dementia progresses, they may begin to behave in ways that other people find difficult to understand.

Changes in behaviour can be one of the most difficult aspects of living with dementia, both for the person with the condition and those around them.

These behaviours usually happen when the person is feeling confused or distressed and trying to make sense of what is happening, or when they are trying to communicate that they need something. Looking at the causes of the behaviour and identifying the person’s needs can help to reduce them or make them easier to manage.

You may have heard the term ‘challenging behaviours’. The information on these pages uses the term ‘behaviours that challenge’ to emphasise that the person is not deliberately being ‘difficult’, and the behaviour can be just as challenging for them as for those supporting them.

If you’re caring for or supporting a person with dementia, this information is for you. However these pages do not include information on walking about, or behaviour that is verbally or physically aggressive. For information on these behaviours see factsheets 501, Walking about and 509, Aggressive behaviour.

Carers – looking after yourself

When you’re finding things difficult, don’t forget to look after yourself too.

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