What Are Four Common Behaviors That People with Dementia Often Exhibit?

Understanding the common behaviors associated with dementia is crucial for providing effective care and improving the quality of life for individuals affected by this condition.
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Dementia is a broad term that describes a range of cognitive impairments, significantly affecting an individual’s ability to perform daily activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause, but there are many others, including vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia. The progression of dementia varies from person to person, but certain behaviors are commonly observed across different types of dementia. Understanding these behaviors is crucial for caregivers and healthcare professionals to provide appropriate care and support. This article explores four common behaviors exhibited by people living with dementia, supported by current research and sources.

1. Memory Loss and Confusion

Memory loss is one of the hallmark symptoms of dementia, often the first noticeable sign. People living with dementia frequently experience short-term memory loss, which may manifest as forgetting recent events, conversations, or appointments. They might repeatedly ask the same questions or lose track of where they are and how they got there.

Current Research: According to the Alzheimer’s Association (2023), memory loss that disrupts daily life is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, the most prevalent form of dementia. The National Institute on Aging (2022) also highlights that as dementia progresses, individuals may experience confusion about time and place, including forgetting familiar routes or the names of close family members.

2. Difficulty with Communication

Individuals with dementia often struggle with language and communication. This can include difficulty finding the right words, following or joining conversations, and understanding or expressing thoughts.

Current Research: A study by Watson et al. (2021) in the Journal of Neuropsychology found that communication difficulties in patients with dementia are linked to the degeneration of language-related brain areas. Aphasia, the loss of ability to understand or express speech, is common in various types of dementia, particularly in frontotemporal dementia.

3. Changes in Mood and Behavior

Dementia can cause significant changes in a person’s mood and behavior. This can include increased irritability, depression, anxiety, agitation, and apathy. Some individuals may also exhibit more pronounced behavioral changes such as aggression or wandering.

Current Research: A comprehensive review by Canevelli et al. (2022) published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease noted that neuropsychiatric symptoms are prevalent in dementia and significantly impact the quality of life of patients and caregivers. These behavioral changes are often due to the deterioration of the brain’s frontal lobes, which are responsible for regulating behavior and emotions.

4. Difficulty with Daily Activities

As dementia progresses, individuals may find it increasingly challenging to perform everyday tasks. This can range from difficulty with complex activities like managing finances or driving to problems with basic self-care activities such as dressing, eating, and bathing.

Current Research: The Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention, and Care (2020) highlights that functional impairment is a key criterion for diagnosing dementia. Studies indicate that early intervention and supportive care can help maintain independence in daily activities for as long as possible (Livingston et al., 2020).


Understanding the common behaviors associated with dementia is crucial for providing effective care and improving the quality of life for individuals affected by this condition. Memory loss and confusion, communication difficulties, changes in mood and behavior, and challenges with daily activities are four prevalent behaviors that caregivers and healthcare providers need to address. Current research continues to shed light on these behaviors, offering insights into better management strategies and interventions. By staying informed about these common behaviors and their underlying causes, caregivers can develop more empathetic and effective approaches to support individuals living with dementia.

NCCDP is committed to excellence in dementia care.  Becoming a Certified Dementia Practitioner signifies a professional has gone through dementia-specific education in the field and is dedicated to ongoing professional development.  CDPs demonstrate enhanced skills, better patient outcomes and apply best practices in the field.  Learn how to get your CDP at https://www.nccdp.org/certifications/.


  • Alzheimer’s Association. (2023). 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Retrieved from alz.org
  • Canevelli, M., Bruno, G., Grande, G., et al. (2022). Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms in Alzheimer’s Disease: Emerging Treatments. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 82(3), 1179-1193.
  • Livingston, G., Huntley, J., Sommerlad, A., et al. (2020). Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. The Lancet, 396(10248), 413-446.
  • National Institute on Aging. (2022). What Is Dementia? Symptoms, Types, and Diagnosis. Retrieved from nia.nih.gov
  • Watson, R., Ariza, M., & McKeith, I. (2021). Communication Impairment in Dementia with Lewy Bodies. Journal of Neuropsychology, 15(1), 24-35.

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The NCCDP staff consists of a full team of experts in dementia care & education.