5 Common, Challenging Behaviors of Those Living with Alzheimer’s


As a progressive brain disorder, Alzheimer’s disease means a decrease in cognitive function and memory that creates substantial behavioral changes. For the family and friends of someone living with Alzheimer’s, these dramatic changes in behavior can be one of the most distressing parts of this journey. Syncare Memory Suites is a specialized memory care home in Minnesota, and we understand the challenges families face when a loved one is struggling with Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, there are coping strategies that can be helpful. Here are five common, challenging behaviors of those living with Alzheimer’s, plus our tips for managing them.

Outbursts and Aggression

It can be bewildering and frightening to families when a loved one displays verbal or even physical aggression. Do your best to remember that it’s the disease that triggers this kind of behavior — your loved one isn’t doing it intentionally.

Pro tip — Consider whether there might be an immediate cause for the behavior, including physical discomfort or overstimulation. Remedying these situations may help your loved one calm down.

Pacing, Rocking, and Other Forms of Restlessness

Processing new information and stimuli become challenging when you have Alzheimer’s, which can create anxiety. Often, this is expressed in behaviors that signal restlessness, such as pacing back and forth, rocking in a chair, or the wringing of hands.

Pro tip — Anxiety in those with Alzheimer’s is often triggered by something specific in your loved one’s environment. Try a soothing diversion, such as soft music or a change of scenery.

Repetition and Disorientation

Memory problems often mean a lot of repetition in a loved one’s words or activities. They can also display signs of disorientation in places that were once very familiar. Practice staying calm, and don’t try to correct or argue. It’s not worth the potential argument, so do your best to be patient.


Sundowning describes the uptick in symptoms like memory loss, confusion, and agitation that present around sunset for many Alzheimer’s patients, and it can be particularly troubling experience for everyone. It may be the result of a series of triggers, such as end-of-day fatigue, too much stimulation, internal imbalances, and the decrease in natural light.

Pro tip — A structured daytime schedule paired with a healthy diet can be helpful, as can keeping a home well-lit and closing shades and blinds just before it gets dark.

Accusations and Hallucinations

It’s difficult to know what to say or do when a loved one accuses you of something untrue or otherwise exhibits behaviors that aren’t based in reality. They may perceive something that isn’t actually there or display symptoms of paranoia. If these kinds of delusions or hallucinations persist or are otherwise alarming to you, it’s worth discussing with your loved one’s doctor.

Learning how to manage the symptoms and behaviors of your loved one isn’t easy, and if the time has come to find a more structured setting, Syncare is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our home and what we can do for your loved one.