Dementia Web - Dementia Information Resource for Oxfordshire

DementiaWeb - Dementia Information Resource for Oxfordshire

"Difficult Behaviour"

Unusual or Aggressive Behaviour

Sometimes people who have dementia behave in ways that those around them may find strange, or difficult to deal with. All behaviour has a reason, but sometimes it can be very difficult to understand what this might be, especially when someone you have known for a long time seems to be acting out of character. You may find the Alzheimer's Society factsheet about unusual behaviour helpful.

Aggressive behaviour, particularly from a loved one, can be especially difficult to deal with. Some carers and family members find it helpful to know that aggressive behaviour may be linked to the disease process. For instance, carers often report a period of several months, during the middle stages of Alzheimer's disease, when the person with dementia becomes verbally or physically aggressive towards them.

Aggression is often caused by frustration, and may occur when the person with dementia is trying to do something (e.g. leaving the house), and somebody tries to stop them. It is important to avoid confrontation if at all possible.

The Alzheimer's Society factsheet Aggressive behaviour has further information.

Do not be afraid to ask for professional help, e.g. from the doctor, if you are frightened that the person you care for might hurt you.

Hallucinations and Delusions

Some people with dementia may experience visual or auditory hallucinations, seeing or hearing things that are not really there. Hallucinations are more common in certain types of dementia (e.g. dementia with Lewy bodies).

Delusions occur when the person with dementia develops distorted ideas about what is happening around them. These ideas may seem paranoid to those around them, but logical to the person themselves. For instance when a valuable item goes missing at home, and the person with dementia is sure they have not moved it, so looks for another explanation, e.g. it has been taken by burglars, who are out to get them. At this point even finding the item in question may not resolve the situation.

The Alzheimer's Society factsheet Hallucinations and delusions has further information, and tips for coping with these experiences.


Some people with dementia may walk about restlessly, either within their home or going outside. Carers often describe this as "wandering", but this term has become unfashionable among dementia professionals, who are keen to acknowledge that the person themselves may be walking purposefully, even if those around them do not understand what this purpose may be.

If you would like more information about walking and dementia, Alzheimer Scotland have an interesting information sheet you can download (PDF, 148KB) called When people with dementia walk.

Relationships Information

Sex is not always a subject that is easy to talk about; the Alzheimer's Society has a helpful factsheet about Physical Intimacies (this factsheet mentions the The British Association for Counselling: please note that their address and phone number are no longer those shown on the factsheet).

The Alzheimer's Society website also has a more general Relationships information section.

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