Level 2 Distress behaviours in Dementia Training. (Accredited)




What is stress and distress in dementia?


Has been used to refer to the "difficult" or "problem" behaviours which may be shown by individuals.


Such behaviours include aggression (e.g, hitting, kicking, biting), destruction (e.g, ripping clothes, breaking windows, throwing objects), self-injury (e.g, head banging, self-biting, skin picking), tantrums and many other behaviours (e.g. running away, eating inedible objects, rocking or other stereotyped movements).

What is stress distress?

Dementia and distress behaviour puts the safety of the person or others in some jeopardy or has a significant impact on the person's or other people's quality of life.


In general, Dementia and distress behaviour is rather more common in people with dementia, though the pattern varies considerably depending on the type of behaviour being considered and the age and type of dementia of the person.


The first point to make is that there is no simple answer to this question. However it is helpful to remember, that most people without dementia display lots of distress behaviour as the disease progresses.

Why do dementia patients get so angry?


Many cases of distress behaviour appear to be effective ways for a person with dementia to control what is going on around them. This may reflect their lack of more usual methods of control and the more unusual nature of the environments to which they are exposed.


While the above is a generally accepted account of why distress behaviour in dementia occurs we should always consider, especially if the behaviour has just arisen or worsened, the possibility that it reflects some kind of biological or emotional disturbance. People may bang their heads because their ear aches or hit out because they slept poorly the previous night. Understanding the variation in a person's behaviour that challenges is often a key to promoting positive change.


How do you respond to distress behaviour?

  1. Treat the distress behaviour as evidence of a previously undetected problem. Is the person in pain? Or bored? Or being asked to do things they find difficult? Or trying to "tell" you something? And so on.

  2. Try to check things out for yourself. If you change something does that stop the distress behaviour? Can you teach the person to tell you what they want without distress behaviour?

  3. Keep some sort of record of when the distress behaviour happens and the things you have done to try to figure out what's going on. In a year or two's time you'll find that it's very difficult to remember the details

  4. If (and only if) it is safe to do so then " ignore" the distress behaviour (don't comment on it, don't tell the person off, appear not to notice it) and change the situation (distract, divert) as quickly as you can. If distraction or diversion is impossible you may have to leave the person on their own but you need to be sure that the situation is safe and be able to cope with the distress behaviour possibly continuing for some time before it stops

  5. If it is not safe to ignore the distress behaviour respond as calmly and blandly as possible to prevent the person hurting themselves or others

  6. If you do have to respond, better to respond quickly than slowly - otherwise you are teaching the person to be more persistent

  7. Distress behaviour can be an emotional experience - you may feel very angry with the person or very depressed about their distress behaviour. Don't be ashamed of this, don't bottle it up and don't kick the cat! Instead, talk about it with anyone who will listen and understand.

What do learners receive?

  • Course notes

  • Certificate


Course Length

3 Hours



This training course is available as in-house training at a venue of your own choice throughout the UK.


Attendees minimum 6 to maximum 15



All delegates will receive an Advantage Accredited certificate.

Enquire about this course by filling the form below.