Unusual or Aggressive Behaviour
Sometimes people who have dementia behave in ways that those around them may find strange, or difficult to deal with. All behaviour has a reason, but sometimes it can be very difficult to understand what this might be, especially when someone you have known for a long time seems to be acting out of character. You may find the Alzheimer's Society factsheet about unusual behaviour helpful.
Progress in researching behaviour and dementia
has revealed that often the person is trying to communicate something.
It could be a myriad of things: how the person is feeling; how they don’t
understand what is going on around them; that they feel that their needs
are not being met; that they want to start/stop doing something; they
are too hot/cold/tired/thirst/hungry etc. The skill of a carer, relative,
visiting professional is to try to interpret the behaviour that is exhibited
to find the meaning behind it – what is the person trying to say?
What cues is the person giving as to their physical, psychological and
emotional state? Can you ‘stand in the person’s shoes’
for a moment and attempt to see the world from their point of view –
how would you react if you were that person?
Some behaviour can be very frightening. Aggressive behaviour, particularly from a loved one, can be especially difficult to deal with. Aggression may be caused by any of the reasons suggested above. It may especially be caused by the person’s frustration at a situation, for example, trying to leave the house and being prevented from doing so. It is important to avoid confrontation if at all possible.
The Alzheimer's Society factsheet Aggressive behaviour has further information.
Do not be afraid to ask for professional help, e.g. from the doctor, if you are frightened that the person you care for might hurt you.
Hallucinations and Delusions
Some people with dementia may experience visual
or auditory hallucinations, seeing or hearing things that are not really
there. Hallucinations are more common in certain types
of dementia (e.g. dementia with Lewy bodies).
Delusions occur when the person with dementia develops distorted ideas about what is happening around them. These ideas may seem paranoid to those around them, but logical to the person themselves. For instance when a valuable item goes missing at home, and the person with dementia is sure they have not moved it, so looks for another explanation, e.g. it has been stolen. At this point even finding the item in question may not resolve the situation.
The Alzheimer's Society factsheet Hallucinations
and delusions has further information, and tips for
coping with these experiences.
As dementia progresses people may experience continence
problems with bladder or bowels. This may be because they are unable to
find their way to the toilet anymore: in which case leaving the toilet
door open, and measures such as a highly visible red toilet seat may help
for a time. The person may need to be regularly reminded or prompted to
visit the toilet. They may need help at night to see their way to the
bathroom . The Alzheimer's Society's factsheet 'Incontinence'
has more information.
You may also find useful information on our Help at Home page.
Some people with dementia may walk about restlessly, either within their home or going outside. Carers often describe this as "wandering", but this term has become unfashionable among dementia professionals, who are keen to acknowledge that the person themselves may be walking purposefully, even if those around them do not understand what this purpose may be.
If you would like more information about walking
and dementia, Alzheimer Scotland have an interesting information sheet
you can download (PDF, 148KB) called When
people with dementia walk.
Safe and Sound
Kent Search and Rescue (KSAR), have a 'Safe and Sound' campaign to help when someone goes missing. The campaign is aimed primarily at those that care for vulnerable people of all ages, in particular carers who care for friends and family at home, parents, foster parents, and those who work with vulnerable people in various residential settings. The ‘Safe and Sound’ campaign is intended to bring together a number of initiatives that are designed to help carers develop workable solutions to prevent the person they care for from going missing but also get them home quickly if they do.
This also includes a leaflet, which can be downloaded free of charge, to encourage people to take a passport style photo at the same time they check their smoke
alarm. This photo can then be attached to a life history questionnaire that carers can complete and have to hand to give to the Police should the person they care for go missing. The questionnaire covers physical description, medical details, previous workplaces, addresses or other place they may try to get to.
For further information please go to 'Safe and Sound' on the Kent Search and Rescus website.
Kent Search & Rescue (KSAR)
10 Norman Road
Westgate on Sea
Telephone: 01843 832995
Sex is not always a subject that is easy to talk about; the Alzheimer's Society has a helpful factsheet about Physical Intimacies (this factsheet mentions the The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP): please note that their address and phone number are no longer those shown on the factsheet).
For further information please go to BACP
or You may wish to contact a department of BACP using the list below:
The Registered Office is open Monday-Friday, from 8.45am until 5pm.
• Tel: General Enquiries: 01455 883300 or Text: 01455 550243
• Write to:
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
15 St John’s Business Park
Registered Charity 298361, VAT Registration 443 854 436
The Alzheimer's Society website also has a more general Relationships information section.
If you look after someone with dementia, you can
find out more about the help and support you can both get from Carers
Carers Direct has a free confidential telephone helpline can give you information and advice on any questions you may have about caring on 0808 802 0202.
Lines are open 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday, and 11am to 4pm weekends.