Common Behaviours


Click on the green bars below for more information on:

  • Apathy
  • Anxiety & Agitation
  • Hoarding
  • Paranoia
  • Perceptual Problems
  • Repetitive Behaviours
  • Sun-downing
  • Sleep Disruption


Apathy is a word that describes loss of interest, motivation and/or persistence. It means not caring and not being social with others. The person with dementia may become apathetic and feel unmotivated to do anything. Apathy can be a symptom of depression but it can also occur separately from depression.

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Apathy: Printable PDF Handout

Apathy: Printable PDF Tips



Many people living with dementia experience anxiety and agitation wherein they experience a profound loss of their ability to negotiate new information and stimulus.

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Anxiety & Agitation: Printable PDF Handout

Anxiety & Agitation: Printable PDF Tips


Persons with dementia experience memory loss, mental confusion, disorientation, impaired judgment and behavioral changes. One of these changes may include hoarding or hiding objects and rummaging.

While hoarding is often harmless, it can become a health and safety issue for the person with dementia. Some people are natural “collectors” who have accumulated things that are important to them over the years. They may have difficulty getting rid of items because of the personal meaning they hold. Compulsive hoarders collect many items that they are not able to discard. As the hoarding increases over time, their living areas may become unsafe and the behavior may lead to health risks and financial strain.

View Rummaging, Hiding & Hoarding Resources

Rummaging, Hiding & Hoarding Explained: Printable PDF Handout

Rummaging, Hiding & Hoarding Explained: Printable PDF Tips


Many people living with dementia wander. There are different kinds of wandering. Active wandering includes pacing, searching for something or attempting to keep busy. Passive wandering occurs when the person seems to pace aimlessly and is easily distracted. Wandering may become an issue if it poses safety concerns due to exiting or elopement. It may also result in intrusions into other people’s private space and cause relationship problems. In some situations, it may interfere with the person’s ability to maintain adequate nutrition and hydration.

View Wandering Resources

Wandering: Printable PDF Handout

Wandering: Printable PDF Tips


Due to changes in the brain, people living with dementia may be vulnerable to experiencing hallucinations, delusions and/or paranoia. Understanding the difference between these can be helpful.

  • A hallucination is a false perception of objects or events and is sensory in nature. When individuals have a hallucination, they see, hear, smell, taste or even feel something that isn’t really there. They may see insects crawling on their hand or hear people talking to them and respond to those voices.
  •  A delusion is defined as a false idea or belief, sometimes originating in a misinterpretation of a situation. For example, when individuals living with dementia have a delusion, they may think that family members are stealing from them or that the police are following them. This kind of suspicious delusion is sometimes referred to as paranoia.It’s important to appreciate that hallucination and delusions may or may not be upsetting to the person living with dementia. Not all hallucinations are frightening, and not all delusions are paranoid in nature.

View Perceptual Problems Resources

Hallucinations, Delusions & Paranoia: Printable PDF Handout

Hallucinations, Delusions & Paranoia: Printable PDF Tips


An individual living with dementia may exhibit verbal repetition (also referred to as perseverating) or physical repetition (i.e. repetitive movements like rubbing hands together again and again). The individual may appear to be very clingy and shadow the person caring for them, even following them to the toilet. Unfortunately, people who perseverate are often characterized as “attention seekers”. In truth, they have little insight or control over this.

View Repetitive Behaviours Resources

Repetitive Behaviours: Printable PDF Handout

Repetitive Behaviours: Printable PDF Tips


When someone with dementia becomes episodically more confused in the late afternoon and evening, it is known as sundowning. They may also exhibit restlessness, become suspicious, upset or disorientated, wander more, see or hear things that are not there, or believe things that are not true.

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Sun-downing: Printable PDF Handout

Sun-downing: Printable PDF Tips


Problems with sleeping are common for people living with dementia. Some people sleep during the day and are awake and restless at night. Some are no longer able to tell the difference between night and day, while others are simply not as active as they used to be and so need less sleep.

Sleep problems are among the most difficult dementia symptoms for caregivers. Families and caregivers must be able to get adequate sleep themselves. Plan regular periods of rest and regular breaks for yourself, as well as for the person living with dementia.

View Sleep Disruption Resources

Sleep Disruption: Printable PDF Handout

Sleep Disruption: Printable PDF Tips