Changes In Behaviour


Common symptoms of dementia may include progressive and frequent memory loss, confusion, personality change, apathy, withdrawal and reduction in ability to perform everyday tasks.

Early signs of dementia are very subtle and vague and may not be immediately obvious. Some common symptoms may include progressive and frequent memory loss, confusion, personality change, apathy and withdrawal, and reduction in ability to perform everyday tasks.

A change in behaviour may result from changes in environment, health or change in medication.

Physical illness, pain or discomfort of any kind can trigger a change in behaviour.
Behaviour can be seen as a form of communication particularly for those who have difficulty verbally expressing their needs, wants and feelings.

Common behaviours that carers identify in the person they care for

  • Depression or apathy
  • Wandering
  • Shadowing
  • Refusal
  • Aggression
  • Repetition
  • Sexually inappropriate behaviour
  • False accusations

Keep a note or listing or diary of your observations and the changes you notice. This can be very useful information to share with health professionals whose knowledge and understanding of the person you care for is more limited than your own.

Changes in the abilities of the person you care for will impact their capacity to handle tasks and roles they have carried within your family and in the community. This may change the way they relate with you and your family. It can be a difficult time for family, friends, work, sporting and community associates etc, to understand what is happening and to make sense of the changes. It is challenging to think about what the changes will mean for the future.

To discuss changes in behaviour AND
how you are coping contact


As you notice changes in behaviour you may want to seek professional advice and treatment. Therefore, it is important to get a medical diagnosis early so that you and your family can begin to understand how to manage and cope with the impact of dementia.

Learn more about Dementia Assessment.


Your GP should be your initial and most important contact as they know the health status of the person you care for. They can provide a referral to a specialist who will assess the type of dementia. They will continue to be a useful support if the changes in behaviour have a medical basis that you need to address. They provide information to help you apply to Centrelink for Carer Allowance or Carer Payment.


A geriatrician, neurologist or neuropsychologist will make an assessment/diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia, and determine which stage the disease is in. They can prescribe medication to treat cognitive, behavioural and psychological symptoms.