Common Behavioural Changes When Living with Dementia

Written by Active Minds on Thursday the 9th of January 2020.


Changes in behaviour can be common as a person progresses along their dementia journey. Having knowledge around some of the changes which may occur can be important for both the person living with dementia, their friends and family or carers to understand. Behavioural changes may occur due to environmental or health changes, confusion, agitation or feelings of frustration. Here we will discuss just some of the common changes in behaviour which may occur along the dementia journey.

Agitated Behaviour

Agitated, or sometimes aggressive behaviour may come about as a result of confusion or anxiousness. It is important that if the person living with dementia becomes agitated that you look for reasons why this may have occurred, and address these as a way to calm or relax the person. Your body language and tone of voice should also remain calm in order to communicate positivity and relaxation.

Reassurance is key for someone who may be agitated, and it’s important to communicate with each other to see if there is a certain issue which may be causing agitation.


Compulsive Behaviour

Compulsive behaviour may include actions such as repeating tasks. Repeatedly locking the door or counting and organising items in a certain way can be a common behavioural change for someone with dementia. This may be due to cognitive changes, memory loss or a feeling of a loss of control. If compulsive behaviour becomes a safety risk, it is important to consult a GP.

Other ways of managing compulsive behaviour is to take part in activities together as a way of distraction. Listening to music, watching a film, reminiscing or simply having a conversation can be brilliant ways of relaxing and minimising compulsive behaviours.



Repeatedly asking the same questions or saying the same things can be common for someone living with dementia. This may be due to things such as anxiety or memory loss. Reassuring the person, answering the questions calmly and not becoming frustrated are ideal responses. Remember that the person may not be aware they have repeated a question, and responses such as ‘you’ve already asked that’ may cause confusion.


Sleep Disturbance

Changes in sleeping patterns can be fairly common for someone progressing along the dementia journey; insomnia and sleep walking may sometimes be observed. It is important to treat sleep problems at their root and consider what may be causing them. It could be as a result of their sleeping environment, their daily routine or medications. Keeping a sleep diary can help to identify what could be affecting sleep and give solutions for aiding in relaxing sleep.

Things such as having daily routines can help with sleep disturbances and having a night-time routine especially can help encourage better sleep.

Whilst changes in behaviour can be common for someone living with dementia, with increased knowledge of what to expect on the journey, or by speaking to a GP when you notice behavioural changes in the person it can help them on their dementia journey.