What Changes in Behavior Occur in Seniors Who Have Dementia?

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Behavior Changes for Dementia Senios

Each year more than three million seniors in the United States are diagnosed with dementia. Those who care for loved ones with dementia may notice different behaviors as the disease progresses. These behavioral changes can be caused by social, psychological, and biological factors.


Your loved one may seem extremely restless at times and fidget, pace, or try to leave the home. Seniors with dementia often can’t express their needs. For example, if you get warm, you might choose to take off your sweater or turn down the heater. Your loved one might not be able to express his or her discomfort and may fidget instead. If your loved one becomes restless, try to determine if he or she has a physical need that isn’t being met.


Sundowning is a term used to describe changes you may see in your loved one as the sun sets and the evening progresses. You might notice your loved one become more aggressive, agitated, or sad in the evening. Lack of light and disrupted sleep schedules can make sundowning worse. Keeping your loved one on a sleep schedule and adjusting lights in the evening might help.

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, a leading provider of elderly home care Harrisburg, PA, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Loss of Inhibitions

Your loved one may lose his or her inhibitions and make rude or inappropriate comments to you or others. This loss of inhibitions may lead to actions such as sexual gestures, bathroom behavior, or expressions of boredom and frustration. Try to remember your loved one isn’t acting this way on purpose, and gently distract him or her.

Trailing & Checking

Living with dementia is difficult for seniors. It can make them feel scared and anxious. Having a caregiver around may comfort your loved one. When you leave a room for only a few moments, it may seem like a long time for your loved one. He or she may call for you whenever you leave, frequently check that you’re near, and trail you as you move around the home. Though it can be frustrating to handle this behavior, try not to get upset or speak sharply to your loved one. Comfort him or her with a service animal, music he or she loves, or a cozy blanket instead.

Anxiety & Accusing

The anxiety your loved one feels can cause him or her to become extremely distrustful of others. Your loved one may become very suspicious and accuse others of stealing money, taking his or her items, or ruining the home. It’s not helpful to argue in these situations or to simply dismiss your parent’s feelings. Remember that what your loved one is feeling is very real to him or her, and try not to take any accusations personally. Instead, calmly state the facts and reassure him or her that everything is okay.

One of the most challenging tasks of helping an elderly relative age in place safely and comfortably is researching agencies that provide elder care. Turn to Home Care 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. Reach out to us at Home Care if you need compassionate, professional care for your loved one. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (717) 540-4663 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.


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