Education and Care

Behavioral Challenges:
Strategies to Head Off or Deal With Behavior Problems


  • Pay attention to what the individual with dementia is saying—both verbally and non-verbally. Caregivers also should be aware of their communication techniques, including providing one-step instructions and speaking in a reassuring tone.

  • Think ahead and plan for situations that could result in problem behaviors.

  • Understand that trying to argue with someone who has dementia only results in frustration for both them and the caregiver.

  • Distract and divert attention whenever possible.

  • Hold to the same routine.

  • Keep things simple to avoid frustration.

  • Promote a sense of security and comfort.

  • Use positive reinforcements, such as smiles, a gentle touch, personal attention and praise.

  • Allow the individual to have some sense of control. Being able to "save face" is important to someone who is very confused.

  • Maintain a calm manner even when the individual becomes aggressive or agitated. This can defuse a tense situation and help reduce a person's fears.

  • Assess the situation to protect yourself. Should an individual's aggression become violent, be mindful of your own safety first.

  • Caregivers should practice ways to reduce stress when they become angry or frustrated, since anger and frustration could aggravate a behavior problem.

  • Remember that behavior problems result from the disease. Do not take things that the person says and does personally; it is the disease speaking.

  • Be creative and use common sense.

  • Try to keep a sense of humor even in the most difficult situations.

Connect with other family caregivers:

Care Crossroads

For more information, connect with the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s licensed social workers. Click here or call 866.232.8484. Real People. Real Care.

Alzheimer's Foundation of America  866.232.8484