DementiaRoadmap Wales

Promoting living well with dementia across Wales

Unusual behaviours

There is a wide variety of changed behaviours that can pose difficulties for a carer trying to provide support to someone with dementia. These may vary with the stage and sub-type of dementia.

These behaviours include:

  • Angry (aggressive) behaviour such as shouting angrily or hitting out at others
  • Anxiety and / or depression
  • Excessive walking (wandering behaviour) when people spend long periods of time walking either repetitively or walking long distances
  • Repetitive behaviours such as saying words, asking questions or making sounds, rocking, rubbing parts of the body repeatedly
  • Vocally disruptive behaviours such as shouting, swearing, screaming or grunting.
  • Dis-inhibited behaviours ranging from taking clothes off, masturbating or making sexual advances.

There are also many other behaviours such as being withdrawn and unresponsive, suspiciousness of other people, making accusations, sleep disturbance etc which carers and care staff can struggle to know how best to respond.

These behaviours are often described as ‘difficult’. People with dementia can sometimes be labelled according to the behaviour. For example ‘he is a wanderer’. This ‘label’ can have a negative impact on both how the individual is perceived and how the person is supported.

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Resources

  • Women and Dementia: A global research overviewJune 5 2015This report published by Alzheimer’s Disease International explores the main issues affecting women in relation to dementia from an international perspective.
  • Dementia DiariesJune 4 2015Dementia Diaries is a national project that brings together people’s diverse experiences of living with dementia as a series of audio diaries.
  • Sight, perception and hallucinations in dementiaOctober 20 2012This Alzheimer's Society factsheet considers some specific difficulties that people with dementia can have with sight, perception and hallucinations, and suggests ways to support them.
  • Drugs used to relieve behavioural and psychological symptoms in dementiaJanuary 20 2012This factsheet produced by the Alzheimer’s Society explores the different types of drugs that can be used to treat these symptoms if non-pharmalogical treatments have not worked.
  • Are you worried about Dementia?April 7 2014This leaflet produced by the Lewy Body Society explains the main symptoms and causes of dementia. It also outlines the distinct symptoms associated with Lewy body dementia.
  • Information about Lewy Body DementiaApril 27 2015This handbook published by the Lewy Body Society aims to help people with Lewy body dementia (LBD), their families and health care professionals learn more about the disease and find ways and resources to help them cope with it.
  • Award in Understanding DementiaMarch 18 2015The Alzheimer's Society and the Royal Society for Public Health have joined forces to create a new qualification to help people understand more about dementia.
  • Dementia and aggressive behaviourMay 20 2013This factsheet produced by the Alzheimer's Society aims to aid understanding about what may cause this type of behaviour and offers some ways to deal with it.
  • Moving and walking aboutJune 20 2012This Alzheimer's Society factsheet explains some of the reasons why a person with dementia may walk about and looks at what you can do to help.
  • Women’s experiences of dementiaJune 1 2015The 'Women's experiences of dementia' website contains a wealth of stories which highlight the experiences of women affected by dementia.
  • Ten tips for communicating with a person with dementiaSeptember 8 2012These top tips produced by the Family Caregiver Alliance will help practitioners and those caring for a person with dementia to improve communication skills and ability to handle the difficult behaviour.
  • Women and dementia: A marginalised majorityMarch 8 2015This report published by Alzheimer's Research UK reveals that dementia has become the leading cause of death among British women and that women are far more likely to end up as carers of those with dementia than men, suffering physical and emotional stress and job losses in the process.
  • Unusual behaviourNovember 29 2010This factsheet produced by the Alzheimer’s Society outlines some typical sorts of unusual behaviour in people with dementia and explains some common causes.
  • Guidelines for Helping the Confused Older PersonMay 16 2019These guidelines are designed to help someone be able to provide assistance to an older person experiencing confusion or the cognitive changes associated with dementia although may prove useful for any age group with dementia.
  • Dementia Superheroes – Helping to make Dementia a little less scary for kidsAugust 7 2019It can be hard for a child to see someone they love with dementia. The Dementia Superheroes are cartoons designed by the Alzheimers Society, to help make dementia a little less scary for your child. 
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