Understanding the Behaviors of Elders with Dementia

Elder Care in Kannapolis NC

Dementia is a brain disorder that makes it difficult for people to think clearly, make decisions, or even communicate their feelings. As the family caregiver, caring for someone with this diseaseElder-Care-Kannapolis-NC can pose many challenges, including understanding alarming behaviors. It can be easy to become stressed and angry at your loved one for their aggressive behavior, but that will only make the situation worse. Understand that your loved one has a brain condition that has completely changed who they are. Even the happiest, most easy going person can become upset and aggressive with dementia. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict how they are going to behave each day, but with these tips, you will have a better understanding of why the elder you are assisting with in-home care is resorting to challenging behavior.


Do not take it personal
It is easy to think that the older adult is acting out because they are upset with you, but they are unable to control their emotions and are not acting this way on purpose.

Stay calm
Getting upset yourself may only worsen the behavior of your loved one. Stay calm and speak softly to the senior in order to help diffuse the situation.

Give them space
If they become aggressive or violent, the best thing you can do is to give them some space to calm down. Arguing with and attempting to stop this type of behavior could intensify the senior’s already aggressive behavior. Back away until the person begins to calm down, then slowly approach them, keeping your voice calm.

Consider the reasons behind the behavior
Seniors who are getting elder care for dementia may not be able to communicate using words, so they use behaviors and other nonverbal communication skills to let you know what they want. Take a look at why they may be acting out. Are they tired, hungry, in pain, or lonely? Or could their behavior be a result of their medication? Pay attention to what the elder may be trying to tell you through their behavior.

Respond to their emotion
If your loved one is constantly asking about another family member, they may just want to make sure that person is safe. If they are trying to communicate with you, respond to their questions or nonverbal signs that they want something.

Behavior may be triggered
Something could have been said or done to the elder, causing them to react with aggressive behavior. Instead of condoning it, come up with consequences for your loved one to help reduce these behaviors. Also, trying to distract them from whatever has upset them may help.

Validate their feelings
If distractions do not work, your loved one may feel better knowing that you understand why they are upset. For example, if they want to go outside when the weather is poor, you could say, “I know you want to go outside.” Then, play a game together that could be played outside, such as throwing a soft ball to each other.


Elders with dementia may resort to childlike behavior, making it a challenge to try to reason with them. Instead of trying to change their personality, use these tips to understand it and help your loved one cope with their feelings.

If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in Kannapolis, NC, contact the caring professionals at TenderHearted Home Care today. Call us at (704) 207-0265


Family Caregiver Alliance. “Caregiver’s Guide to Understanding Dementia Behaviors.”

Ferman, Tanis J., PHD, Smith, Glenn E., PHD, and Melom, Briana, MA, LSW. “Understanding Behavioral Changes in Dementia.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email