Changes to how you think and feel
Dementia affects how a person thinks, feels and communicates.
If you can’t get across to others what you think and feel, it can be very frustrating and upsetting.
People with dementia sometimes express this frustration and distress through their behaviour. Perhaps the people around you are noticing that your behaviour has changed.
Any changes in behaviour can be confusing for both you and those around you. And it can be hard to know what to do about it.
Neuropsychologists are experts in this area. Occupational therapists and other allied health professionals who specialise in dementia understand what people with dementia are going through, and know about ways to help.
In some parts of Australia, there are teams of allied health professionals who work with you to sort these issues out. The Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS) also has allied health professionals; they provide advice and can support carers and families to deal with changed behaviours.
DBMAS 1800 699 799
Felipe migrated to Australia with his wife and two children in his mid-fifties. He was a very active man who had played soccer professionally. Felipe worked two full-time jobs – one by day, and one at night – to support his family. After retiring, Felipe stayed very active and took up kayaking in his late seventies. Eventually health problems stopped him keeping up with his exercise and fitness, and he became quite depressed. He then developed dementia.
The combination of depression and dementia hit Felipe very hard. He became forgetful, angry and easily agitated. A dementia service helped Felipe and his family in many different ways, and he improved. He saw the neuropsychologist for assessment and regular counselling to talk through his feelings about the changes.
An interpreter who Felipe had known for some time relayed his ‘poetic and philosophical nature’ that others couldn’t see, as he had lost the ability to express himself freely in English.
A physiotherapist developed a tailored program to build his strength and fitness. An occupational therapist helped him find meaningful activities.
A social worker helped Felipe and his family in making the decision to move to an aged care facility, and provided the practical support to make this happen. Felipe started exercising again and also started watching replays of European football, which he enjoyed. His family was given support and education about communicating with Felipe in different ways. With all these strategies and some medication changes, Felipe’s depression improved, and he became fitter and happier again.
- A guide for family carers: dealing with behaviours in people with dementia. 2014. Dementia Collaborative Research Centre: Assessment and Better Care and the University of New South Wales.
- Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service. 24-hour helpline: 1800 699 799
- Intimacy and sexual issues, Helpsheet 19. 2012. Alzheimer’s Australia.
The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government funded initiative.