When you have a situation where a person with dementia behaves out of character, it is important to not see the behaviour as just a symptom that needs treatment. A problem-solving approach is required to work out why their behaviour has changed. Out of character behaviour often resolves itself and is managed by carers over time. However, there are times when a professional input is needed. Sudden behavioural changes, especially those where a person with becomes more agitated, confused or distressed, are often due to physical problems. For more information about reducing out of character behaviour read our article in full…
Managing and reducing out of character behaviour from dementia
First of all, it is a good idea to visit the GP who can rule out physical problems such as an infection, constipation or poor hearing or eyesight. Medication side effects can also cause behaviour to change. Mental illnesses like depression can contribute to out of character behaviour too. These can often be managed through medication or other strategies. If health problems are ruled out, and the person still behaves out of character, the GP may then refer them to a specialist.
Reducing out of character behaviour
It is possible to reduce the chance that a person with dementia will develop out of character behaviour in the first place. Some simple measures to try include:
- ensuring that social relationships continue
- encouraging the person to engage in activities
- reducing any unnecessary noise and clutter
- providing them with some familiar personal items
- offering a comfortable and relaxing sleeping environment.
Approaches to managing out of character behaviour
If someone you love does start to develop changes in their behaviour, there are several drug-free treatments that can be tried. These are general approaches that should be considered first before any drugs are prescribed by the GP. These approaches may include:
- giving the person in enjoyable and meaningful activities to do –ranging from playing music to getting exercise
- spending more quality time with the person –by chatting or sharing tasks together
- creating a highly structured routine for them to follow everyday hand massages – especially useful to reduce agitation