Owners' Blog

4 Behaviors Older Adults with Dementia May Exhibit

By Hilary and Greg Eldridge

There’s no question that caring for an older adult with dementia is challenging. It’s incredibly hard to watch someone you know lose their cognitive abilities and forget family members and friends. So, it’s no wonder that most people think about the memory problems when they think about dementia. However, equally as challenging as memory loss are the behaviors that can occur. Below are 4 dementia behaviors that family members may notice in older adults with dementia.

#1: Wandering

Seniors with dementia may walk around aimlessly. In fact, it can sometimes seem like they never sit down. Wandering can occur for a number of reasons, such as:

  • The person is looking for someone or something.
  • Boredom.
  • Side effect of medication.
  • They are thirsty, hungry, or need to use the bathroom.

While it might be irritating to have them pacing around the house, the behavior can also lead to them getting lost. As a result, families often have to take steps to keep the senior from going outside on their own, like keeping doors and windows closed and locked and placing locks up toward the top of doors where the senior won’t see them.

#2: Repetition

Dementia can cause older adults to repeat words, questions, or statements over and over. They may also perform the same activity several times in a row. Repetition may happen because of anxiety, boredom, or fear. To deal with repetition caused by anxiety, experts recommend placing signs in the house that let the person know when something will be happening. For example, place a white board in the kitchen to write notes like, “Dinner is at 5:00” or “Your caregiver today is Janet.” Repetition triggered by other things may be relieved by distracting the person. Offer them an activity to do or a snack to eat.

#3: Reluctance to Bathe

Caregivers want their loved ones to be clean but having someone help with bathing can be confusing and embarrassing for the senior. Yet, allowing them to bathe alone may be unsafe. To help ease their worries, it can help to follow their old bathing rituals as closely as possible. For example, think about whether they preferred bathing or showering. Also, help them maintain dignity by closing doors and draping a towel over them.

#4: Suspicion

It’s not uncommon for seniors with dementia to accuse family members and caregivers of stealing or other bad behavior. The main thing is to remember that their accusations aren’t personal. They are a symptom of the disease. Although it can be distressing to be accused of something you didn’t do, avoid arguing with the senior. Respond with reassurance and try to understand the feelings that lead to the behavior.

Elder care can help families to deal with dementia behaviors. Elder care providers can keep older adults safe from getting lost by watching over them when family caregivers cannot be there. Elder care providers can also assist with bathing. Having someone who is not a family member assist with this personal care task may help the senior feel less self-conscious. Elder care providers can also relieve family caregivers from the frustrations of having to deal with difficult behaviors just by giving them some time to themselves.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring elder care in Cumming, GA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers, call (678) 430-8511.