Understanding the 6 Most Common Dementia Behaviours
Posted on 17th August 2023 at 16:32
Understanding dementia behaviour and its changes is important for caregivers and the population in general. 90% of people with dementia show characteristics of challenging or worrying behaviour. Some examples of dementia behaviour include aggression or confusion, but this is dependent on the stage.
Dementia is the leading cause of death in Britain, where the average cost to the UK is £34.7 billion per year. There are almost one million people living with dementia in the UK, but only 62% are diagnosed. While incurable, research suggests 40% of cases are preventable, but 98% of people could improve their brain health to reduce risks.
What are the 6 Most Common Dementia Behaviours?
Wandering is one of the most common dementia behaviours at 60%. It stems from restlessness, boredom or amnesia. For example, they are looking for a particular person, place, or item, but can’t remember where to go.
They could also be trying to fulfil daily tasks, such as going to the bathroom. However, this can become life-threatening if the area is not safely secured, and the person gains access to dangerous objects, such as some electrical items.
2. Anxiety and Agitation
Agitation can come from anxiety, causing behaviour changes in dementia based on different triggers, such as moving home, noise or misperceived threats. When they feel control is being taken away, the level of these common dementia behaviours rise.
It’s then important to keep dangerous objects out of harm’s way and acknowledge their behaviour. Let them know you understand their worries and try to soothe them.
3. Hallucinations and Delusions
Hallucinations and delusions are when you think something is there but actually isn’t. For example, they might hear, see, taste, smell or feel something you can’t. However, this behaviour change in dementia usually appears at a later stage.
When you spot this behaviour, do not try to convince the person otherwise as it’s important to note they are trying to understand their behaviour as much as you are. Instead, reassure them you are there for them and try to distract them.
Aggression is thought to be one of the most common dementia behaviours and is often discussed the most too. Causes could be from a number of reasons, such as physical discomfort, poor communication or environmental factors.
A result of this could be verbal or physical threats, so it’s important to step out of their way and find the trigger before distracting or soothing them. Just remember, you cannot help them if you are harmed, so keep yourself safe first.
Repetition can occur because of confusion, memory loss or environmental factors. Someone with dementia may repeat something they’ve just previously done, it could be a daily occurrence, or they may imitate what they see around them.
Instead of reminding them about their repetition, create signs with the activity and time so they know what’s happening and when. You may find yourself repeating the same answer, but you can also try refocusing them on a new activity.
Sundowning is increased confusion happening during the night, commonly triggered by shadows, noise, dreams or less need for sleep. In particular, symptoms could be sleeping difficulty, wandering or anxiety.
To reduce this common dementia behaviour, limit caffeine and sugar in-take at night. Encourage walks and energy-draining activities during the day, but reduce those during the afternoon to help aid better sleep.
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