Dealing with Difficult Alzheimer’s and Dementia Symptoms

dementia symptoms

Why do Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms cause difficult behavior?

The person with Alzheimer’s or dementia can’t express what’s wrong or what they need, so they act out. Your older adult may act in strange, annoying, or scary ways, but these difficult behaviors often have a real, physical cause.



Step-by-step guide from the Alzheimer’s Association

To help you deal with these challenging issues, we recommend this free guide from the Alzheimer’s Association.

You can turn directly to the specific behavior that you’re currently dealing with. In one short page, clear instructions walk you through how to understand and manage the situation.

The guide has practical advice on how to deal with these 7 common behaviors:

  • Aggression
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Confusion
  • Repetition
  • Suspicion
  • Wandering and getting lost
  • Trouble with sleep


Why can’t they just tell me what’s wrong?

Because communication is difficult for the Alzheimer’s or dementia patient, you’ll have to play detective to figure out what’s really causing this behavior. It’s usually a signal that there’s a problem.

Respond in a calm, soothing tone while you follow the guide’s steps to check for:

  • Pain or discomfort
  • Signs of overstimulation
  • Feeling disturbed by strange surroundings
  • Being overwhelmed by complicated tasks
  • Frustration because of the inability to communicate


It feels like they’re acting this way on purpose!

It’s natural for you to feel frustrated and angry, but try to remember that their aggressive or annoying behavior is not done on purpose to annoy you.

Your older adult is trying hard to communicate, but lacks the ability to do it properly. Take a deep breath, slowly count to 10, and use the tips in the guide to calmly deal with the situation.


Next Step  Print the guide Behaviors: How to respond when dementia causes unpredictable behaviors


Recommended for you:
VIDEO: Experience Alzheimer’s for Yourself
VIDEO: Screaming, Biting, Defiance? Get Help with Difficult Behavior in Seniors
40+ No Fail Activities for Seniors with Cognitive Issues


By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: ElderConsult


Linking Disclaimer: The Alzheimer’s Association is not responsible for information or advice provided by others, including information on websites that link to Association sites and on third party sites to which the Association links. Please direct any questions to


  • Reply May 18, 2018

    Chrystal Knight

    Mom thinks she can drive. Everyday ask to fix her car.

    • Reply May 18, 2018


      It’s great that you aren’t letting her drive even though you have to repeatedly answer that question. This article has suggestions that may help — 8 Ways to Stop an Elderly Person From Driving When All Else Fails

  • Reply May 17, 2018

    Darcie Breazzano

    I need help explaining to my family that moms hate of one gal caring for her , is hurting the whole day !!

    • Reply May 17, 2018


      Maybe it would be helpful to have your family observe firsthand what’s happening. If they can see for themselves, they may have an easier time understanding.

  • Reply July 24, 2017


    There was no “guide” when you click on the Alzheimer’s Association link in this article. WHAT are you supposed to see or look for when you get there??

  • Reply April 25, 2017

    Pam Williams

    Thank you for all the very helpful information. It’s so nice to have somewhere to go to answer my questions, This is all new and scary for not only my Mom who is in late stage Alzheimer’s/ Dementia and Parkinson’s. But me as her caregiver as well… So thank you❤ again for answering alot of my questions and helping ease some of my fears😅. I’m Extremely Grateful💝Pam and Patsy Williams😪… God Bless!

    • Reply April 25, 2017


      I’m so glad this article is helpful! Caring for someone with serious health issues is scary. I’m sorry to hear about your mom’s conditions. She’s lucky to have you both to help her! Big hugs ❤️

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