How Does Behavior Change in Seniors with Dementia?

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Does Behavior Change in Seniors with Dementia in Richmond, VA

It can be difficult to care for a senior loved one with dementia because of the changes in behavior that tend to occur over time. In some cases, a dementia-related condition like Alzheimer’s disease can contribute to changes that are unexpected or out of character for your loved one. Although behavioral changes related to dementia usually aren’t preventable, there are ways you can address the common dementia-related behavioral changes discussed below.

Aggression, Anger, & Agitation

As the ability to verbalize feelings and emotions is affected, your loved one may suddenly become angry, aggressive, or easily agitated. Behaviors like these can be related to confusion, fatigue, overstimulation, or frustration. Possible solutions include:

  • Avoiding the movement of familiar objects in the home—small changes like this sometimes cause anxiety
    • Minimizing distractions like background noise from the TV
    • Playing soothing music
    • Sticking to one topic during conversations or asking simple questions
    • Giving your loved one a break if you notice he or she is getting tired and increasingly agitated

Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Richmond seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

Communication Problems

It’s common for seniors with dementia to experience communication difficulties. Such issues could include mixing up or forgetting words, repeating things, or losing their trains of thought mid-conversation. You may be able to manage communication problems effectively by:

• Offering verbal and physical reassurance with a calm tone and gentle touches
• Limiting distractions when you need to get your loved one’s attention
• Watching your loved one’s facial expressions to get an idea of what he or she is trying to convey
• Giving your loved one a moment to process what you’re saying
• Speaking clearly and loudly enough to be heard
• Avoiding the temptation to correct minor inaccuracies

Delusions, Hallucinations, & Paranoia

Changes within the brain sometimes cause seniors with dementia to misinterpret shadows on the walls, experience hallucinations, or become paranoid for no clear reason. Behavioral changes like these can be unsettling, but they may be manageable if you:

• Avoid immediately dismissing the delusion
• Consult with a doctor to see if medication changes may help
• Reassure your loved one he or she is safe
• Redirect your loved one’s attention with an enjoyable activity

If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of in-home care Richmond, VA, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Sleeplessness & Sundowning

Seniors with dementia sometimes experience late-day confusion (sundowning), which is common with Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia can also affect sleep patterns and contribute to daytime fatigue. Handling issues of this nature may involve:

• Minimizing stimulants like alcohol and caffeine
• Creating a comfortable sleep environment
• Exploring options with in-home care so you can stay well rested while your loved one is supervised at night
• Adjusting lighting to minimize confusion associated with natural daylight changes
• Tracking your loved one’s sleep habits or sundowning symptoms so the doctor can use this information to identify patterns and offer suggestions


During the later stages of dementia, your loved one may confuse day and night or randomly wander because of disorientation. Wandering can be a serious and potentially dangerous problem if your loved one tries to go outside unsupervised. Possible solutions include:

• Adding specially designed covers to exterior door knobs
• Installing door alarms
• Using a home monitoring system to track movements remotely
• Installing newer exterior locks with a keypad that requires a code
• Sticking to regular schedules or routines so your loved one is less likely to wander

One of the most challenging tasks of helping an elderly relative age in place safely and comfortably is researching agencies that provide home care services. Turn to Home Care Assistance for reliable, high-quality in-home care for aging adults. We offer 24-hour live-in care for seniors who require extensive assistance, and we also offer respite care for family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties. Schedule a free in-home consultation by giving us a call today at (804) 207-4746.


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