Behaviors in Dementia

Memory Dimentia
First of all…What is Dementia/Neurocognitive Disorder (NCD)?

According to ICD-10’s Clinical Descriptions and Diagnostic Guidelines for Mental and Behavioural Disorders, dementia/NCD is defined as “a decline in memory, which is most evident in the learning of new information, although in more severe cases, the recall of previously learned information may be also affected.

The impairment applies to both verbal and non-verbal material.  The decline should be objectively verified by obtaining a reliable history from an informant, supplemented, if possible, by neuropsychological tests or quantified cognitive assessments.”

The guidelines further describe three consecutive stages in dementia/NCD:

Mild, Moderate and Advanced.


Why DimentiaWhy do we experience behavioral symptoms in dementia/NCD?

The unique biological, social, and psychological factors each person will experience will shape the type of behaviors they may exhibit as they progress with more advanced stages of dementia/NCD. No two people are alike, and it is important to understand the meaning behind the behavior and why someone may be expressing themselves like this.

Persons with dementia/NCD may express certain behaviors due to:

  • An unmet need (Ex. hunger, thirst, companionship, environment change).
  • A disruption or change in their milieu that is making them uncomfortable, confused, or unable to fulfill a need.
  • A change in their information processing, motivational drive, or regulation of emotion.



What are the typical behavioral symptoms in dementia/NCD and what do they mean?Brain Icons

Based on the Stage Congruent Responsive Behavior (SCRB) Model, there are twelve behavioral categories that dementia/NCD symptoms can be classified under:

  1. Disorganized Behaviors
  2. Misidentification Behaviors
  3. Apathy Behaviors
  4. Goal-Directed Behaviors
  5. Motor Behaviors
  6. Importuning Behaviors
  7. Emotional Behaviors
  8. Fretful/Trepidated Behaviors
  9. Vocal Behaviors
  10. Oppositional Behaviors
  11. Physically Aggressive Behaviors
  12. Sexual Behaviors

Each behavior category has specific biological, social and psychological factors that influence their occurrence in advanced stages of dementia/NCD. You can learn about each of these behaviors in our clinical book or in upcoming blog posts online.

Join the conversation and learn more about The Meaning of Behaviors in Dementia/NCD!