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Managing Dementia and Behaviours of Concern

Dementia affects not only your loved one's ability to remember, but can cause them to behave differently. In certain cases, behaviour linked to dementia, such as aggression or wandering, can be a cause for concern.

If you need advice or support on dementia, you may email ccmh@aic.sg.

​​​​​​​​​​Factors That Led to Behaviour

When taking care of your loved one, caregivers will need to ascertain some factors that may have caused the behaviour to happen.

  • What triggered the behaviour. Consider commonly unmet needs, such as constipation, pain, and toileting needs.
  • Whether the behaviour is causing distress to your loved one – if so, prompt treatment may be necessary.
  • Whether the safety of your loved one is compromised – if so, some modifications to the home setting may need to be made to ensure that the environment is safe

While caregivers may feel inclined to ask their healthcare professionals for medicines that can address such behaviour, in reality, it is the daily, non-drug methods and techniques that are more effective in the long term. These techniques include:

  1. Revise your approach. Tasks may need to be simplified and your loved one may need some help with the task. Remember that it's about simply engaging your loved one in an activity. It will help them to focus on their abilities, rather on their inabilities.
  2. Validate how your loved one feels. Acknowledge your loved one's feelings and experience. Do not confront or argue – it is not necessary to always correct your loved one when they are in the wrong.
  3. Direct their attention elsewhere. Identify the cause behind the behaviour and address it through engaging your loved one in meaningful activities.

​​​​​​​​​Advice For Persons with Early to Moderate Dementia

Is your loved one behaving aggressively?

Sometimes your loved one may behave aggressively, display an outburst of emotions, or throw a "tantrum", if there are unmet needs that cause them discomfort. Learn the possible unmet needs and what you can do if your loved one behaves aggressively.

Download PDF: Is your loved one behaving aggressively

How to address wandering behaviour in your loved one with dementia

Wandering behaviour can be caused by various factors such as habit, boredom, looking for someone or trying to get away. See attached for the details and strategies to manage your loved one.

Download PDF: Wandering Behaviour

Is your loved one experiencing difficulties with eating?

As persons with dementia also often have difficulties communicating, it is not easy trying to figure out why they refuse to eat. This can happen for a variety of reasons:

  • Feeling frustrated with difficulties they are having eg swallowing
  • Poor appetite or disliking the food​​
  • Feeling uncomfortable with the environment or people eg feeling rushed

Learn how to manage their behaviour and what to watch out for the causes. A​lso, learn how to improve your loved one's appetite.

Download PDF: Is your loved one experiencing difficulties with eating

Is your loved one experiencing Sundowning?

If your loved one with dementia displays behaviour changes particularly in the evening, do not brush it off as just a symptom of dementia. These behaviour changes, Such as agitation, aggression, confusion and restlessness, are known as sundowning and often occur in the moderate to severe stages of dementia.

There is now a Night Respite service available for caregivers of persons with dementia who have sundowning behaviour. Click here​ to learn more.

Download PDF: Is your loved one experiencing Sundowning


​​​​​​​​​​Advice For Caregivers Of Persons with Advanced Dementia

Is your loved one experiencing difficulties with eating?

Food plays a very important part in our lives, so it can be difficult for caregivers when they see their loved one losing interest in food and consequently losing weight.

This tends to happen towards the advanced stage of dementia. It may seem as though your loved one is being starved. However, the reality is that their metabolic rate goes down and they use less energy too. Your loved one may not be as active or mobile as before and may not require the same amount of calories they had when they were more active. In fact, having a reduced interest in food or fluid intake can be a part of "natural progression" as we age.

Download PDF: Is your loved one experiencing difficulties with eating

Is your loved one experiencing urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is a common problem in dementia. As the disease progresses, your loved one may become less aware of their toileting needs and urinate unconsciously. Deterioration may lead to urinary tract infection, an enlarged prostate gland, impaired mobility, and constipation. Click here to learn how you can manage this issue.

Download PDF: Is your loved one experiencing urinary incontinence

Is your loved one experiencing constipation?

Constipation is a source of discomfort, and can worsen confusion and agitation. It also makes passing urine more difficult and can cause urinary retention. Here is some information on how to manage this condition.

​Download PDF: Is your loved one experiencing constipation​


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