Changes in behaviour

Dementia affects people in different ways and changes in the behaviour or emotional state of a person living with dementia are common. Changes can include anxiety, agitation, aggression, hallucinations, loss of inhibition and depression.

There are many reasons why someone living with dementia may behave in a certain way. Every person will react differently.

Sometimes the behaviour may be caused by:

  • changes in the brain caused by dementia
  • an underlying illness, such as an infection or pain
  • difficulties with communication
  • something in their living environment.

Possible causes

There are five categories of possible causes for changes in behaviour:

  1. health (physical, emotional and psychological)
  2. communication
  3. personal history
  4. environment
  5. performing tasks.
  • Learn more about possible causes for changes in behaviour to help you make plans to minimise changes in behaviour. 
    Read more.
  • Understanding why someone is behaving in a particular way may help you find ways to respond if changes in behaviour occur.
    Read more.
  • There are many common changes in behaviour, including anxiety, agitation, aggression, hallucinations, loss of inhibition and depression.
    Read more.

Where to get help

  • Discuss with the person’s doctor your concerns about changes in behaviour, and the impact on you and the person you care for.
  • Call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 to learn about support services and education programs, including carer support groups, counselling, and services and programs to assist you to understand and respond to changes and maintain your health and wellbeing.
  • Call the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service on 1800 699 799. They support people living with dementia who experience changes in behaviour that impact their care or the carer.