Every individual has needs that need to be met. However, as dementia affects the brain which controls all mental functions and voluntary behaviours including thoughts, emotions, and speech, the progression of dementia may cause people to be increasingly less able to recognise their needs, know how to meet them, or communicate them. In addition to this, behaviour changes also occur due to changes in the brain. The type of behaviour change exhibited depends on the areas of the brain affected by the condition causing the person’s dementia as well.
It is also crucial to understand these behaviours from the perspective of the person living with dementia. They may present with these behaviours as a result of their needs not being met, their attempt to meet a need, or an attempt to communicate to individuals around them.
Unmet needs underlying behaviour changes can be generally categorised into the following four factors:
1. Physical Needs: The person living with dementia may be experiencing pain or discomfort, and may be suffering from other illnesses at the same time.
2. Psychological/Cognitive Needs: The person may be depressed or may have other mental health issues. They could also be feeling confused or threatened in an environment that does not seem right or familiar.
3. Social Needs: The person may be feeling lonely, isolated, or bored.
4. Environmental/External Needs: The person may be in an overstimulating environment (e.g., with loud noises or busy environment), or experiencing a different and unfamiliar routine.