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Alzheimer's and Dementia, Memory Care

5 Common Alzheimer’s Behaviors and Strategies for Managing Them

It’s estimated that as many as 6.5 million Americans age 65 or older are currently living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. If you’re acting as a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s, you may start to notice behavior changes that leave you wondering how to best handle them.

While there are many behaviors associated with this condition, here we will discuss five of the most common, share strategies on how to manage them and also discuss the support options available from Newcastle Place.

5 Common Alzheimer’s Behaviors

Seeing someone you know and love behave in ways that are not typical of their personality can be distressing. However, having a greater understanding of what they’re going through as a result of Alzheimer’s is valuable in helping you provide the support they need. Here are five of the most common behavior changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Confusion or Memory Loss

Memory loss and confusion are some of the first Alzheimer’s symptoms people look for. In earlier stages, the person with dementia may be aware they’re having difficulty remembering events or making choices, leading to frustration. As things progress, they can forget familiar people or how to do regular tasks.


Another common Alzheimer’s behavior is repetition. When brain cells deteriorate, communication becomes more of a struggle. Often, those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia will fall into patterns of repetition as they try to make sense of the world around them. This can include asking the same question several times or repeating words and phrases over and over.

Anger or Aggression

When a loved one lashes out despite your efforts to help, it can be especially jarring. Keep in mind, this is not personal. Their reaction of anger or aggression is likely due to frustration, physical discomfort or an overwhelming environment. Because brain function is diminished, their difficulty communicating can take a more aggressive form.

Sleep Issues

Sleep issues resulting from Alzheimer’s – often referred to as “sundowning” – can cause restlessness beginning at dusk and continuing throughout the night. These issues may appear as anxiety, confusion or actions like pacing around the room. Though the exact cause of sundowning is not known, changes in the brain can disrupt the internal clock and cause disorientation.


When individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia lose the ability to recognize familiar places or people, it’s not uncommon for them to wander away and become lost. This is one of the most dangerous Alzheimer’s behaviors and leads to a great deal of stress for caregivers. It can occur at any stage of the disease, and may even happen repeatedly if appropriate precautions to prevent it are not taken.

Strategies for Managing Alzheimer’s Behaviors

Seeing a loved one suffer from the effects of Alzheimer’s is incredibly challenging. As they progress through the different stages of the disease, their day-to-day life can change dramatically, as well as your role as a caregiver. Luckily, these strategies can help you effectively manage common behavior changes.

  • Behavior: Confusion or Memory Loss
  • Management Strategies:
    • Keep things simple. Don’t use complex explanations or statements
    • Use photos or other familiar items to remind them of people and places
    • Don’t take things personally and do your best to hide hurt or frustration
    • Offer gentle corrections in the form of suggestions
  • Behavior: Repetition
  • Management Strategies:
    • Try to provide answers or solutions that address the issue they’re focused on
    • Stay calm and be patient while they work through the situation
    • Look for reasons behind why they might be repeating certain things
    • Engage them in an enjoyable activity to shift their focus
  • Behavior: Anger or Aggression
  • Management Strategies:
    • Look for the cause of their irritation, including physical discomfort
    • Speak in a reassuring tone and keep a calm demeanor
    • Evaluate distractions in the environment that could be overwhelming
    • Shift their focus to a relaxing activity such as listening to music
    • If you become overwhelmed, remove yourself from the situation safely
  • Behavior: Sleep Issues
  • Management Strategies:
    • Avoid stimulating activities like watching TV in the evening hours
    • Limit daytime naps
    • Keep a regular schedule of waking, eating and going to bed
    • Keep rooms well lit in the evening to avoid confusion
    • Spend time outdoors and engage in activities like walking during the day
    • Confirm medications do not have side-effects that impact sleep
  • Behavior: Wandering
  • Management Strategies:
    • Try to keep activities structured and familiar
    • Keep basic needs like eating and using the bathroom met so they don’t go searching
    • Avoid busy or noisy locations that can cause disorientation
    • Keep track of times of day when they’re most likely to wander and find activities to occupy them during that time
    • If it’s a repeated issue, use a GPS device to monitor their location.

Learn How Newcastle Place Can Help With Memory Care

If you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, don’t let yourself get burned out. The skilled, compassionate team at Newcastle Place is here to help. To learn more about the senior living options in Mequon and the community at Newcastle Place, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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