Dementia and behavioural changes

BPSD stands for Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia, and it can be one of the more challenging aspects of the condition, particularly for those caring for loved ones with dementia. It can be hard to come to terms with your loved one’s behavioural changes, as it’s difficult to separate these behavioural symptoms from your loved one’s personality.

In a specialist dementia care home, staff are trained in the best approaches to caring for somebody exhibiting BPSD’s, but if you are looking after somebody living with dementia in their own home, it can be difficult to know how to react in a way that ensures your own safety, while not disregarding the dignity and safety of the person with dementia.

Some examples of BPSD’s to look out for as a family carer are as follows:

Hallucinations: This will be most obvious when a person with dementia points out something they can see that isn’t actually there. Often these hallucinations will be harmless, but they can be very frightening. While it’s hard to imagine them, these hallucinations can appear to the person with dementia just as real as you are standing in front of them.

Aggression: People with dementia, particularly at a later stage of their dementia journey, can often exhibit anger or irritation towards other people, with no apparent cause. This can manifest either verbally (e.g. swearing) or physically (e.g. lashing out or hitting.) This can be very upsetting for a family member to witness, particularly when your loved one who has dementia is not usually an angry person. It is important to try and separate the illness from the person, and to seek help if you are struggling to cope as a carer.

Mood disturbance: Mental health conditions and dementia can be closely linked, and there can be a lot of crossover in symptoms. Depression is the third most common additional health condition (comorbidity) to dementia. Depending on the stage of their dementia journey, counselling can be a great option for people with dementia who are also struggling with depression or other mental health conditions.

For more information or if you wish to discuss care for your loved one please email