3 Things You Need to Know about Managing Responsive Behaviours in Older Adults

Personality and behavioural changes are common challenges for those caring for individuals or loved ones with dementia. These behavioural changes often impact the memory, judgement, orientation, mood, and behaviour of individuals with dementia, possibly resulting in aggression, delusions, hallucinations, and repetitive speech. These behavioural changes in people with dementia are collectively termed “responsive behaviours”.

While it is essential to recognize that these behaviours cannot be controlled or changed, it is essential to learn compassionate ways to communicate and care for those with dementia. It is also vital to develop strategies to aid you in addressing and Managing Responsive Behaviours in Older Adults.

Some of the most common responsive behaviours in older adults with dementia:

  • Repetition: If you observe repetitive behaviours, such as asking the same question over and over or constant hand rubbing – it could indicate feelings of insecurity or loss. You should approach this situation by speaking calmly and answering their question, even if you have previously answered them.
  • Aggression: You may notice that your loved one becomes angry for reasons that may not be obvious – it could be due to fear of a situation or a person they find threatening. It is recommended to approach from the front while maintaining eye contact and minimize surrounding noise and activity levels.
  • Wandering: This is a typical response to overstimulation and overwhelming situations – it may indicate discomfort, and the your loved one could be experiencing delusions and hallucinations due to dementia or medication side effects. Distraction can be a great aid to redirect the person’s attention to a different activity and manage this behaviour.

To learn more about how you can manage and respond to Responsive Behaviours, consider completing the Managing Responsive Behaviours in Older Adults stacked micro-credential offered by Durham College’s Professional and Part-Time Learning. This stacked micro-credential is comprised of three courses:


  • Recognizing Responsive Behaviours: Which examines a relational care approach and the complexities of dementia. Students will learn the many factors that affect responsive behaviours and the subsequent complexities of managing responsive behaviours.
  • Assessing and Preventing Triggers of Responsive Behaviours: Which focuses on identifying, evaluating and preventing triggers for responsive behaviours. Students will learn to recognize the signs and symptoms that lead to responsive behaviours.
  • Effective Non-pharmacological Interventions for Responsive Behaviours: Which emphasizes strategies that can be used to safely and appropriately prevent the escalation of responsive behaviours. Student’s will be engaged in various practice activities and scenarios that will prepare them to select interventions in different conditions.