Dependent Behaviour in Dementia

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How to deal with changing behaviour in Dementia

One of the characteristics of dementia is that of behaviour changes. You and your loved one will have to get used to this. To help you with this, ‘How to deal with changing behaviour in Dementia’ has been written. Dependent Behaviour in Dementia and 3 other topics (blog posts) help you to understand the change in behaviour of your loved one and gives you tips on how to deal with it better.

Dependent Behaviour

What is dependent behaviour? People with dementia who exhibit dependent behaviour have difficulties being alone. When memory lets them down, they quickly feel anxious and insecure. He or she is afraid of being forgotten or feel unsafe. They also no longer recognize their environment or the people around them. Always looking for support and safety. And cling to the people who are close to them.

Your interaction changes

It is good to realize that your loved one does not always show this behaviour consciously. The person you are caring for is no longer the same as before the disease. Many caregivers have a hard time dealing with this. Because of this they often unconsciously treat their loved one in the same way as they did for the disease. To better deal with the dependent behaviour of your loved one, it is important that you understand where this behaviour comes from.

Causes and possible solutions

Six different factors can cause the dependent behaviour of people with dementia: the dementia itself, their life course, their personality, the space around them, the people around them and their physical condition. You cannot do much about some of those about factors. Meaning you cannot change the course of people’s lives, their personality or the illness itself. It is important to pay attention to these causes, so that you better understand where the behaviour comes from:

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Dependent behaviour is often caused by the dementia itself. When the memory fails them, people with dementia might feel anxious and insecure quickly. They are looking for support and safety and are therefore clinging to the people who are close to them.


Someone who always has had the feeling that he has had to prove himself to others all his life is very often unsure about his own abilities. That feeling is further enhanced by dementia. Your loved one is more likely to seek confirmation from the person who takes care of him or her.


Someone who is insecure and always used to look for confirmation from other people will most likely do this (or do more) when he or she gets dementia.

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Other factors can be influenced, in other words: there is a good change that you can do something about it.

Someone’s surroundings

Someone with dementia finds it increasingly difficult to find their way around the house and forgets where things are stored away. And the space in which someone finds him or herself can give too little or too many stimuli. In both cases, dependent behaviour is encouraged. You can do something about this. For instance, by accommodating your loved one. Decorate the house in such a way that it is easy for your loved one to find his or her way. Make it easier to be less dependent of you. For example, by pasting an image of a toilet onto the toilet door. If the space is not stimulating enough, try to put things that someone likes doing in the clear view. In this way your loved one is invited to do something by themselves. Note, make sure that this is something that he or she can still handle. A fixed daily schedule can also help.

People in their immediate circle

Your behaviour, or that of someone else in the vicinity of your loved one, can influence the dependent behaviour. You can leave your loved one without clearly saying this to him or her. This leads to uncertainty with your loved one. He or she will then search for safety by following you. It can also be that you take on too many tasks, while these (possibly with some guidance) can still be perfectly performed by the person with dementia. Always try to clearly state what you are doing, that you are leaving and where you are going. Make sure that your loved one can do something pleasant, such as listening to music, while you are away.

Physical Condition

The person with dementia experiences pain or another physical discomfort but is no longer able to properly state or explain what is going on. This can result in you being buried under all sorts of various questions. If you suspect that the dependent behaviour is caused by a physical discomfort, try to ask about this discomfort as specifically as possible. Take your time to do this. Consult the doctor if you suspect that there is a physical cause.

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We hope that we have been able to help you a little in your effort to deal a little better with the nightly unrest of your loved one. Realize well that not all solutions that you come up with will work (immediately).

Did you enjoy the article? You might also be interested in the following blogs; What is Dementia, Handling wandering behaviour of people with dementia. Or our other topics on behaviour changes in dementia; Suspicious Behaviour, Aggressive Behaviour, Restless nights in Dementia
Or check Dementia-Friendly Singapore on facebook or theAsianparent Singapore

One thought on “Dependent Behaviour in Dementia

  1. Pingback: Listless behaviour in dementia · Sosbuddy · Dementia

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