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Inappropriate Language and Behaviour | Common Signs

  • Makes comments that are mean or hurtful (e.g. tells people they are fat, have a bad haircut)
  • Tells jokes that are offensive
  • Curses and uses foul language
  • Leers or stares at others
  • Stands too close to people, or touches them inappropriately
  • Makes sexually suggestive comments or advances
  • Physically or verbally threatens others
  • Lacks modesty (e.g. changes in front of people, urinates in public)
  • Spits, belches, or does other embarrassing things in social situations
  • Acts on previously controlled impulses (e.g. phones people in the middle of the night)
  • Reacts in a way that doesn't match the situation (e.g. laughs at a funeral)
  • Talks to strangers about personal matters
  • Frequently makes unwarranted accusations towards others
  • Screams or shouts
  • Displays extreme emotional outbursts and over-reactions
 
Inappropriate Language and Behaviour | General Description

The ability of the person you care for to perceive, think and understand can be affected by dementia. A quiet, loving person may begin to swear when upset, or insult family and friends for no obvious reason. Even when you know that these behaviours are symptomatic of the illness, life can be extremely difficult if the person you care for is verbally abusing you, or acting out in public. The person you care for may begin to make hurtful or mean comments towards others or use profanities regularly. These outbursts may be a way to express the frustration they are feeling towards others who misunderstand them and their resentment of the loss of their independence. Sometimes these feelings may escalate to physical aggression, usually towards the caregiver. The person you care for may not know how to dress or act appropriately for the situation. For example, they may laugh at a funeral or talk during a movie. As the disease progresses, many people lose their inhibition , misunderstand situations or have increasing memory loss. These can result in inappropriate sexual behaviour. For example, the person might appear naked in public or make sexual advances to strangers, or shoplift. Reasons for such behaviours might include physical and sensory difficulties, mental changes, or social and emotional reactions.

In Alzheimer's disease , inappropriate behaviour usually happens later in the course of the dementia, at the moderate to severe stage. (The exception to this is irritability, which is often seen early, as is some "coarsening" of behaviour. By coarsening, it is meant that the behaviour is not entirely atypical , but usually only done with family or people close to them).

Given that Frontotemporal dementia especially affects the part of the brain that handles social behaviour, insight, and social appropriateness, these become affected early in this illness. People with Frontotemporal dementia typically have problems recognizing what is socially acceptable. They find it difficult - or more accurately, the see no need- to adjust their behaviour to fit the circumstances. Often families will state that the person is no longer him/herself. A quiet person may begin to use language that is considered foul or sexually suggestive. They may lose their inhibitions and make inappropriate comments or jokes in public. This behaviour is most embarrassing to the caregiver who knows that the person would not normally say these things. The person with Fontotemporal dementia is unaware that they are saying/doing anything inappropriate.

The first step in taking a more active role in symptom management is understanding how a symptom is affecting everyday life; the next step is communicating this knowledge to care planning team and family members. SymptomGuideTM is designed with this goal in mind.

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See Also:
Symptom Library > Thinking & Judgment > Comprehension/ Understanding
Symptom Library > Personality Changes > Independence
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Hallucinations
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Executive Function
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Inhibition
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Memory
About Dementia > Types of Dementia > Frontotemporal Dementia
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Last updated April 11, 2014
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