Living with dementia will have an impact on one’s emotions, ideas, and reactions. Recognizing and attending to the person’s emotional needs is crucial. Emotional responses frequently vary for people with dementia. They can have less control over how they feel and express themselves. For instance, someone may overreact to situations, experience abrupt mood swings, or feel agitated. They could also come out as abnormally cold or indifferent. Aspects of the illness that affect behavior include irritability, apathy, personality changes, antisocial behavior, and linguistic difficulties. Crowds, activity, and noise may be overly intense and difficult to digest or understand. Additionally, a lot of dementia sufferers depend on the emotional cues of others. For instance, if you are feeling nervous and concerned, many dementia sufferers will mirror your emotions and feel the same way. 

Dementia typically results from a person’s brain losing neurons (brain cells) in certain areas. Which area of the brain is losing neurons tends to influence the behavioral changes you observe. The frontal lobes, for instance, are the region of the brain directly behind the eyes that regulates our capacity for concentration, focus, and motivation, among other personality traits. People are therefore less able to plan and maintain concentration when frontal lobe brain cells are gone. They frequently lose motivation and become more docile. Our impulses are also managed by the frontal lobes. Frontal lobe dysfunction might cause unpleasant or insensitive behavior. 

Impact of Dementia Diagnosis

Someone who has just received a dementia diagnosis is likely to feel a variety of emotions. These can include sadness, rage, fear, shock, disbelief, grief over loss, and even relief. When someone is told they have dementia, they occasionally respond well. They may be happy to be able to make plans or feel relieved to know what is wrong.  

Some people can find it difficult to control these feelings. They could be anxious about the future, worried about temporary forgetfulness and confusion, and concerned about how dementia affects others close to them.  

Some people may experience depression and anxiety after receiving a diagnosis confirmation. For depression and anxiety, a variety of talking therapies are offered, as well as medication if necessary. Depression is a common symptom in dementia patients, especially in the early to moderate stages of the disease when they are noticing that they are losing their abilities. The person can avoid their friends and family because of feeling self-conscious about saying or doing the wrong thing. 

The people surrounding the person will also experience emotional reactions of their own to manage. It’s critical that the person living with dementia and those around them both feel comfortable expressing their emotions. 

Impact on Confidence and Self-Esteem

People with dementia may experience insecurity and a loss of confidence in their abilities. They could not trust their own decision and felt they were no longer in charge. Due to their diagnosis, they may also suffer from the negative impacts of stigma and social “demotion” (not receiving the same treatment as others).  

A person’s self-esteem may be negatively impacted by their health, financial situation, employment status, and connections with those around them.  

Nevertheless, some people experience new interpersonal relationships because of their diagnosis through engagement in activities like joining a class or support group. Some people can manage chronic health conditions better because they have high self-esteem. 

Medical conditions like pain or an illness can also alter behavior. Even though they may have uncomfortable symptoms, a person with dementia may not be able to understand or describe them. Instead, they might display aggressive behavior or exhibit reduced activity. Constipation, urinary tract infections, and inadequate sleep are a few illnesses that might induce abrupt changes in behavior. Finally, some drugs may alter a person’s behavior. 

How can caregivers support individuals with dementia in navigating their spectrum of emotions?

When a person has dementia, their behavior is frequently extremely different from their “old self,” and this can be difficult for family and friends to deal with. There are various causes for behavior change.  

Supporting current relationships and enticing the person with dementia to participate in social groups, community activities, religious activities or hobbies are two ways that carers can be of assistance. Dementia cafés offer a place to socialize, engage in group activities, and discuss living with dementia. 

Caregivers frequently find it challenging to adjust to these changes. It may be helpful to keep in mind that the person’s brain injury contributed to some of these changes. The loss of factual recollections or a deterioration in mental clarity can cause someone to react to a situation more emotionally than could be expected. 

Tips for Caretakers

  • Don’t brush off someone’s troubles; instead, listen to them and let them know you care.  
  • Try to live in the now and avoid dwelling too much on what the future might or might not contain.  
  • If the occasion is right, a sense of humor might be beneficial.  
  • Give the person a lot of support and praise; highlight their achievements.  
  • Be careful not to criticize or insult others harshly.  
  • Make sure people have enough time to engage in the things they find enjoyable or fulfilling. 
  • Be as encouraging as you can if someone makes a mistake.  
  • Encourage people to create new social connections and retain current ones. This can be accomplished by organizing social gatherings with friends and family, joining interest organizations, and promoting dialogue.   


It’s critical to look behind the words or actions you observe and consider the emotions the individual could be attempting to convey. Unfulfilled requirements can also be the root of strong emotions. Caregivers should make an effort to identify these requirements and, if possible, provide them. 

Is it possible to prevent or delay behavioral changes in dementia?

Participating in mental or social activities can strengthen your brain’s capacity to handle illness, reduce stress, and enhance your mood. As a result, engaging in these activities may help to postpone or even halt the onset of dementia. Find mental challenges you enjoy doing and do them frequently. 

Is it common for individuals with dementia to experience hallucinations or delusions?

Yes, particularly in the later stages of dementia, hallucinations and delusions are rather prevalent. The affected people may become fearful, agitated, or confused as a result of these perceptual problems. A person with dementia may experience hallucinations or perceive fictitious objects. Though hallucinations can occur in patients with other types of dementia as well, they are more prevalent in people with dementia with Lewy bodies. 

An experience of something that is not actually there is referred to as a hallucination. Any one or all the senses may be involved. The most frequent sort of hallucinations reported by those with dementia are visual hallucinations, or seeing things that aren’t there. They might be straightforward (such as noticing flashing lights) or complicated (such as observing people, animals, or unusual circumstances). 

Damage to the brain is frequently the source of visual hallucinations. They are more prevalent in dementia patients with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia. Another symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is hallucinations. 

Physical illnesses like fever, seizures, strokes, migraines, and infections can also create hallucinations. Inflammatory and infectious diseases like pneumonia can affect brain function and result in delirium. Some delirium sufferers experience hallucinations. Delirium is a serious medical issue. 

Some people with worsening vision start to see things that aren’t there (visual hallucinations) because of their deteriorating sight and not from any other condition, such as dementia or a mental health problem. This is called Charles Bonnet syndrome. 

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