More Tips on Overcoming Dementia Behavior Problems

Struggling with repetitive questions and challenging behaviors from a loved one with dementia? Diane Carbo shares 50 practical tips for overcoming these common issues and improving your dementia home care strategy.

More Tips on Overcoming Dementia Behavior Problems

Overcoming Dementia Behavior problems … 50 tips for dementia Home Care Tips and Strategies

Do not become impatient when answering the same question over and over

When addressing the very same question over and over, do not become impatient or frustrated. In my early years in nursing, I had an elderly female patient that would ask me “ Can you help me?” I would answer her and she would smile. Less than 30 seconds later, she would ask the same question again. She did this a many thousand of times over the years prior to her death.

As you know, dementia has extreme impact on an individual’s short-term memory. Some family caregivers believe the dementia patient is trying to irritate them.

Yes, it can be frustrating answering the same question over and over. But remember that your family member is not trying to “tick you off”. They truly do no remember what they asked a minute ago.

So try not to get (or appear) annoyed.

Expecting and managing repetitive behavior takes patience. Try to think what it must be like not to remember what you did a minute ago, or what you had for breakfast.

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React to the emotion expressed, if your family member’s speech is incoherent or absent

In the later stages of dementia, it can be difficult understanding what your family member needs. Don’t forget to look for nonverbal clues as aids in assisting your evaluation. Look for grimacing if in pain, or rising and down as if needing to have a bowel movement.

Encourage good behaviors

Everybody likes to be praised. Those with dementia are no different. Find something to praise the dementia patient. Even if you are in the middle of experiencing a challenging behavior.

Remember that individuals with dementia are emotion-oriented. Simply put, they pick up on how you are feeling. They respond to the tone of your voice.

Appreciation always promotes a positive emotional state.  You’ll have it much better to “radiate the light” rather than “cursing the night”. Smile, make eye contact and be aware of the tone of your voice. Try to remain upbeat.

Manage problem behaviors

Dementia home care planning needs an evaluation and plan. You need to prepare for ways to deal with challenging behaviors.

You will probably experience them. Dealing with a dementia patient, you will experience negative or challenging behaviors. Some may have a challenge every day.

In my book Dementia Behaviors you will find:

Behavior-specific guidance


And strategies to help you better manage challenging or negative behaviors.

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Concentrate on dementia patient’s behaviors and mood… instead of on the activity itself

At times, family caregivers get so caught up in attempting to complete a task. They lose sight they’re managing a person.

I assure you, irritation and frustration is what you experience, if you focus on completing a task or activity. There are time when you need to step back and take a deep breath. pay attention to the emotions your family member is expressing. Are they reacting to your frustration and stress levels?

This is when a family caregiver should consider practicing mindfulness. This will help you concentrate on your family member with dementia, in order to complete the job.

Be attentive to their present behaviors and mood. Use that to your advantage to aid you in completing the activity.

Include mindfulness as part of a dementia home care strategy. It is a must if your family member displays challenging behaviors.

Respond to requests or questions

Don’t disregard your family member with dementia when they have questions or make demands. Even if what they want is unreasonable.

For illogical or senseless requests, divert or redirect them to various other tasks.

Do not make promises you cannot keep.

Do exactly what you state you will do. It is important to build trust as well as avoid negative behaviors from occurring.

Provide one instruction each time

Among the hallmarks of disease is the reduction of the ability to multi-task.  That is, a task that takes many steps to complete, will take step-by-step cues from the family caregiver.

The trick is to break down commands into bite-sized portions. Its like eating an elephant. You have to do it one bite at a time.

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Involve in activities

Activities are so important to avoiding or decreasing challenging or negative behaviors. Persons with dementia need consistency and routine, yet this does not mean they have to be bored.

And they will get bored without something occupying their time. Practical stimulation of the senses through activities benefits both mind and physical body.

Your will see changes when you plan activities. There will be decreased negative behaviors, and much more peaceful rest and sleep.

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Are you dealing with difficulties … while providing care for your family member with dementia at home?

Here are some more strategies to incorporate into your dementia home care plan.

Do not expect immediate responses to requests

Provide the dementia patient extra time to respond to :

Your commands


Or concerns.

If you push too hard, you are likely to run into resistance. Even worse, intensify stress and anxiety resulting in difficult behaviors.

Don’t attempt to changes the dementia patients mind unless acting inappropriately

Individual with dementia are far more likely to have delusions and hallucinations. Especially if diagnosed with dementia types. that trigger these issues, such as Lewy body dementia.

It is hard to understand that in those moments the dementia patient is living in a world that is not real.

It is important not to try to change their mind if they are set on believing what you are telling them.  I once had a patient that believed she had a boyfriend that traveled the world. She would talk about him all the time. Many people that did not know this lady, believed her stories of his adventures. Of course, when the time came to ask how often she saw him. She responded that they spoke daily. And all she had to do to contact him was cup her hands together and speak into the palms of her hands.  She was so happy talking about him and his adventures, no one would dare tell her he was not real.

Of course, you want to :



Or distract a person with dementia when they have thoughts that are not hurtful to her or others. But, allow them some joy and peace living in her own little world.

There are times when a dementia patient at home becomes:



And even accusatory.

When these behaviors occur, it is best to discuss with your health care provider… how to take appropriate measures. Sometimes, that measure may be an admission to a senior behavioral health unit.

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Help the dementia patient preserve social contacts

The majority of people, including those with dementia, have family and friends. They still recognize individuals from church or a social clubs, in the early stages of dementia. Some have been active in the community.

Urge those whom the individual is close to, to visit and interact. Encourage as active a social life as is possible.

This can be very difficult in the early stages of dementia… as apathy and lack of motivation are common issues.

Maintaining family and social contacts will :

Stimulate the mind

Enhance the mood

And provide an activity.

This strategy may delay the cognitive decline in your family member with dementia. It’s a great dementia home care technique.

Don’t anticipate reasonable/rational behavior

The individual’s capability to be reasonable starts to fade as dementia progresses. This occurs because of parts of the brain deteriorate.

Understanding and anticipating unreasonable behavior is now an everyday challenge.

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Expect memory loss over time

Many individuals with dementia will completely lose their memories. This occurs in the end stage of the illness.

They will lose memories and functions that will never return.

These include:

  • Once-familiar family members
  • Faces of caregivers and pals
  • Easy tasks they practiced in the past
  • Fundamental bodily functions

This is one of the most challenging concerns for those associated with dementia home care to accept. At  we have some ideas on ways to make the most of this heart-wrenching time.

Activity goal for the dementia patient should to be enjoyment, not accomplishment

There’s nothing wrong with goal setting and achievement. In fact, when going through treatment (speech, occupational, physical) accomplishment is essential.

Restoring lost function or overcoming new obstacles connected to injuries or new medical conditions… are realistic goals.

The goal for the individual with dementia is:

Balancing health

And satisfaction of life

Not striving to focus on goals and accomplishments.

Use “mirroring” strategies

Those with dementia not only forget to do certain things, they forget the best ways to do them.

Generally, they wish to cooperate, but do not understand how to do the task at hand.

This triggers aggravation and anxiety.

This, in turn, can cause troubles in your dementia home care strategies. Be a “reflection in a mirror”, as it were, by showing to them ways to do the job you want them to do. You can make believe to brush your teeth to show how they can brush their teeth. This strategy, if properly executed, can make your task of getting task done a great deal easier.