“Behavior” is another word for communication. And every “behavior” is telling us something.

Remember a few years ago when Charlie Sheen was all over social media, claiming he was “#winning”? It seemed odd at the time, and then it turned out that (like anything any of us do) there was a reason he was acting that way. (Hint: it wasn’t because he was #winning.)

Same goes for our loved ones. They do the things they do because they’re trying to tell us something.

It’s always important to use your expert knowledge of your loved one to figure out the exact meaning of a “behavior” to your person…and know that it can change from one interaction to the next.

But you will get the hang of figuring it out if you keep at it.


YOU Control Your Mindset!

You can think of “behaviors” as something done to annoy the bejesus out of you, or–this next way is more helpful–you can think of “behaviors” as
● “Communication I don’t enjoy.”
● Nonverbal communication. (Think charades or Pictionary.)
● Unmet needs.


Also Keep in Mind

● “Behaviors” send a message we need to interpret.
● Multiple “behaviors” can be sending the same message. 
● One “behavior” can be sending multiple messages.
● Practice will make you better! (And dementia always gives you lots of opportunities to practice.)


Check out This Example

Let’s say your person is doing one (or more) of the following “behaviors”:

❏ Name calling

❏ Repetitive questions

❏ Sub-vocalizations

❏ Kicking

❏ Biting

❏ Refusing care

❏ Repetitive calling out

❏ Pacing

❏ Hitting

❏ Scratching

❏ Spitting

❏ Crying/tearfulness

❏ Refusing meds


Your person is sending you a message via “behavior.” Your job is to figure out what the message means, to interpret it. In this example, any/all of the above messages could be interpreted as 

  • “You’re hurting me!” or
  • “I don’t understand what you’re trying to do!”


The Language of “Behaviors”

Loss of clear verbal communication can be one the most frustrating parts of dementia for care partners. So it occurred to me that a quick reference guide might be handy for care partners trying to figure out why their person was doing a certain thing. 

The Language of Behaviors bonus contains 36 of the most common/frequently asked about “behaviors” and situations, with some ideas about what the interpreted message could be.

When you couple your expert status and insider knowledge of your person with my dementia expertise, that’s a #winning combination! 😉

Download your complimentary bonus guide now: Module 3 BONUS_ The Language of Behaviors



Dementia can last for 20 years. That's a long time to fly by the seat of your pants, struggling through trial and error! If you don't have a strategy, but you're ready to step into the life you and your loved one deserve, schedule your complimentary Dementia Caregiver Strategy call with Christy.


Christy Turner is a speaker and consultant, founder of DementiaSherpa.com, creator of the online program Memory Care at Home, and a regular guest on The Alzheimer’s Podcast. She’s enjoyed the privilege of working with over 1,200 people living with dementia and their families…including multiple experiences in her own family.