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What are responsive behaviours

Responsive behaviours is a term, preferred by persons with dementia, representing how their actions, words and gestures are a response, often intentional, that express something important about their personal, social or physical environment.

They are the result of changes in the brain affecting memory, judgement, orientation, mood and behaviour.

Responsive behaviours follow these principles:

  1. All personal expressions (words, gestures, actions) have meaning.
  2. Personal expressions communicate meanings, needs and concerns.
  3. To understand their meaning, you must consider the factors influencing his behaviour (physical, emotional and environmental elements etc.).

When someone exhibits a Responsive Behaviour, reflect on whether it is a problem for the person diagnosed or for you? Will the solution cause more anxiety? Will changing my expectations affect the problem?

While the guide offers strategies for in the moment behaviours, think about their true meaning. Consider these questions regarding what happened before, during and after the event:

  • Physical – Are her basic needs met? Is she in discomfort or pain? What changes in her physical condition do I see (i.e. grimacing, eating patterns, energy level)?
  • Intellectual – Has he experienced recent changes in his memory? Has he been showing impulsive behaviour (swearing, sexual behaviour)? Is he struggling with speech or sequenced tasks (getting dressed)?
  • Emotional – Have you noticed increased tearfulness or anxiety?  Does he seem lonely?   Has he exhibited any new unusual behaviour (i.e. suspicious of others)?
  • Capabilities  –  Can  your  Mom  do  more  than  you  realize? Does your husband understand that he may need help?
  • Environment – Is there too much noise or too large of a crowd around your friend?  Is the lighting poor, making it hard for him to navigate? Is there enough stimulation?
  • Social – Do her childhood, early adulthood or employment experiences offer insight? What do I know about his religion or culture?
  • Actions  of  Others  –  What am I  doing  or  not  that  may contribute to her behaviour?

  • Last Updated: 08/17/17
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