Dementia may cause your loved one to experience changes which are typically out of character. For example, this can be changes in communication or more pronounced mood swings.
But while nearly half of the people we surveyed were aware that dementia can cause significant changes in personality, only 30% said they’d be comfortable talking about their loved one’s changing behaviours. Understand more about this symptom of dementia with stories from families and Care UK’s experts in the video below.
If you notice a loved one living with dementia is acting in ways that seem out of character, for example changing what they eat or drink or saying things that don’t match their personal, cultural or religious beliefs, they may be experiencing changes in their personality.
Behaviour or personality changes can be a result of changes in a person’s brain caused by their dementia, or because they have unmet needs that they’re unable to communicate, such as pain or boredom. When someone is living with dementia, changes in personality can develop slowly or suddenly, however this is usually in response to changes in circumstance like infection or pain.
Read more about the types of behaviour changes commonly seen in dementia. here.
Changes in behaviour or personality can be difficult for family members and friends to understand, but it’s important to try putting yourself in your loved one's shoes to see if you can recognise why the behaviour has changed.
To find the best way to support someone experiencing personality changes, it’s helpful to know about their life history. Our colleagues at Care UK are trained to learn all they can about residents’ former careers, interests, and hobbies so they can better support them with person-centred care.
Here are a few examples of changes in behaviour or personality, why they could be happening and how to deal with them:
Out-of-character behaviours can be especially hard to deal with if they take an aggressive turn, either verbally or physically. These are often called ‘challenging behaviours’ or ‘aggressive behaviours’ in dementia, but at Care UK, we call them ‘distressed behaviours’.
These behaviours can occur when a person living with dementia is struggling to communicate that they are confused, in pain or have other unmet needs. Remember, they can be just as challenging for the person living with dementia as they are for their loved ones who are supporting them.
Read more about distressed behaviours, how to deal with them, and what you should and shouldn’t do and say to your loved one.
We want to get the nation talking about dementia and some of the most difficult topics associated with the condition. Explore more articles in our online advice hub to take a closer look at the less-talked-about symptoms of dementia and how to navigate them. You can also discover more advice and support on our dementia help & advice page.