Living with Alzheimer's Disease

Understanding Behavioral Symptoms in Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s Disease appears in many ways. You may see behavior or mood changes in yourself or a loved one with the disease. Knowing that these symptoms can be related to Alzheimer’s can change how you approach and help manage them.

You Can Take Action

Try these tips to help yourself or a loved one better understand and manage behavioral symptoms related to Alzheimer’s.1,2,3

How to spot depression related to Alzheimer’s.

Spotting depression related to Alzheimer's can be hard. People living with Alzheimer's may have a hard time telling you how they feel. This makes it important that people around them can spot signs of depression. These signs can include social isolation, not wanting to eat, trouble sleeping, becoming more agitated, being more tired than usual, and feelings of sadness or hopelessness. If you see these symptoms in a loved one, help them find support from a professional who can help find treatments to improve their quality of life.

Recognizing agitation in Alzheimer's.

Agitation is a common behavior in people with Alzheimer's that you can sometimes address. Even though agitation is a symptom of the disease, it usually happens for a reason. As somebody with Alzheimer's loses their ability to navigate their world, even small things like changes in their environment or not being able to do a normal task can cause frustration. If you can find the cause of the agitation and make changes to help fix the problem, the behavior may stop.

How to handle aggression.

Responding to aggression in Alzheimer's is important to keep things from becoming dangerous. As a caregiver, remember that they are not doing this on purpose and that a negative response from you may cause more aggression. Try to find out why they are upset, help them calm down, and make sure everyone is safe. Fixing the problem, limiting distractions, and shifting focus to another activity can help calm them. Safety is the most important thing, so ask for help if you cannot calm them on your own. If you need to call 9-1-1, tell the responders that the person has Alzheimer's.

Managing psychosis related to Alzheimer’s.

People with Alzheimer’s can experience psychosis, including delusions and hallucinations. This means they might not understand what is real and what is not, and they may see things that are not there. As a caregiver, remember that they are not doing this on purpose, and in their minds these things seem very real. Find care from a professional if you need to. For a loved one going through psychosis, keeping them on a regular schedule and removing them from settings where psychosis often occurs can help. Make sure their doctor is aware of these symptoms, as they can talk to you about treatments to help.

Reduce the risk of wandering.

Wandering is a dangerous behavior common in Alzheimer’s that you can prepare for as a caregiver. You can do things to “wander-proof” the home. Keep doors locked, put signs on doors, put in safety devices that limit how far windows and doors can open and make a sound when they do open. You can also keep signs of leaving the house like shoes, keys, and coats out of sight. In case a person does wander, you can take steps to keep them safe. Make sure they always have ID on them, tell neighbors and local police of the possibility, and purchase a GPS locator bracelet that can help you find a lost person.

How to spot depression related to Alzheimer’s.

Spotting depression related to Alzheimer's can be hard. People living with Alzheimer's may have a hard time telling you how they feel. This makes it important that people around them can spot signs of depression. These signs can include social isolation, not wanting to eat, trouble sleeping, becoming more agitated, being more tired than usual, and feelings of sadness or hopelessness. If you see these symptoms in a loved one, help them find support from a professional who can help find treatments to improve their quality of life.

Recognizing agitation in Alzheimer's.

Agitation is a common behavior in people with Alzheimer's that you can sometimes address. Even though agitation is a symptom of the disease, it usually happens for a reason. As somebody with Alzheimer's loses their ability to navigate their world, even small things like changes in their environment or not being able to do a normal task can cause frustration. If you can find the cause of the agitation and make changes to help fix the problem, the behavior may stop.

How to handle aggression.

Responding to aggression in Alzheimer's is important to keep things from becoming dangerous. As a caregiver, remember that they are not doing this on purpose and that a negative response from you may cause more aggression. Try to find out why they are upset, help them calm down, and make sure everyone is safe. Fixing the problem, limiting distractions, and shifting focus to another activity can help calm them. Safety is the most important thing, so ask for help if you cannot calm them on your own. If you need to call 9-1-1, tell the responders that the person has Alzheimer's.

Managing psychosis related to Alzheimer’s.

People with Alzheimer’s can experience psychosis, including delusions and hallucinations. This means they might not understand what is real and what is not, and they may see things that are not there. As a caregiver, remember that they are not doing this on purpose, and in their minds these things seem very real. Find care from a professional if you need to. For a loved one going through psychosis, keeping them on a regular schedule and removing them from settings where psychosis often occurs can help. Make sure their doctor is aware of these symptoms, as they can talk to you about treatments to help.

Reduce the risk of wandering.

Wandering is a dangerous behavior common in Alzheimer’s that you can prepare for as a caregiver. You can do things to “wander-proof” the home. Keep doors locked, put signs on doors, put in safety devices that limit how far windows and doors can open and make a sound when they do open. You can also keep signs of leaving the house like shoes, keys, and coats out of sight. In case a person does wander, you can take steps to keep them safe. Make sure they always have ID on them, tell neighbors and local police of the possibility, and purchase a GPS locator bracelet that can help you find a lost person.