Why do dementia patients have spontaneous outbursts of crying and shouting?

by | Nov 10, 2023 | Caregiving, Wellness & Health


Anyone who knows dementia patients closely must have come across the phenomenon because dementia patients sometimes have outbursts of crying and shouting, for no apparent reason. Suddenly there are spontaneous shouts that cannot be exactly understood at that moment what is the reason for them. These are very stressful and difficult phenomena that are not easy to deal with, for the patient himself and for those who treat him.

What could be the reasons that can cause screams and spontaneous crying in dementia patients?

The reasons why the dementia patient screams or cries spontaneously are:

  1. Physiological reasons – such as: pain, restlessness, hunger or the desire to use the toilet.
  2. External reasons such as: an environment that is too noisy or busy or any change in the daily routine of the person dealing with dementia.
  3. Mental reasons – such as loneliness, boredom, anxiety, depression or delusions.

Crying can be a result of real stress, stemming from feelings of loss, or overwhelm. In addition, crying can be less of a case of grief and more of a result of behavior that stems from habit.

Spontaneous crying and shouting, common in dementia diseases such as: vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia and Lewy body type dementia. These behaviors can increase during the day as a result of sundowning syndrome.

Sunset syndrome is a condition in which the dementia patient feels anxious and agitated, especially in the afternoon and evening, the hours of sunset.

Sometimes, a person with dementia can shout and cry for no particular reason, at a certain time during the day. That person may feel anxiety, fear, delusions or paranoia during that time. Therefore, his behavior is expressed in uncontrollable crying and shouting. Sometimes there are people, especially dementia patients, who suffer from a phenomenon called pseudobulbar affect which causes uncontrollable crying and inappropriate laughter. Those people who suffer from this phenomenon can cry and not know why they are crying or laughing for no reason.

מדוע לחולי דמנציה יש התפרצויות בכי וצעקות ספונטניות?
Spontaneous crying and shouting..

How can dementia patients be helped with outbursts of crying and shouting?

There are times when there does not seem to be a reason for the dementia patient to cry, at least there is no reason that we can determine. Sometimes, dementia patients get “stuck” in a certain behavior for no real reason. Anyway, before you decide that crying and shouting in dementia patients is a behavior without a specific reason.

Instead of saying, “That’s how it is with dementia patients,” adopt the following interventions to make sure you’re doing everything you can to help them.

  1. Pay attention to the times when the demented person does not cry or shout. Examine his environment, the time it happens during the day. Does this behavior call after a certain treatment or after a certain meal? Does it happen during an activity he likes to do? If possible, try to recreate the event that made him calm.
  2. Try to rule out depression or anxiety in the dementia patient. Crying and shouting can indicate anxiety and depression in dementia patients.
  3. Involve him in meaningful activities such as: simple housework, of course all under your supervision. See article on “How to communicate correctly with dementia patients?” Tips and secrets – tip number 6.
  4. Check if he does not suffer from any pain, or some discomfort.
  5. Check with the pharmacist or treating doctor the medications he receives. Sometimes a certain mixture of medications he receives at the same time can cause anxiety and stress.
  6. Don’t give up, most of the time the challenging behaviors in dementia do have meaning. Our job as primary therapists and professional therapists is to continue to improve the quality of patients’ lives. The dose of crying and shouting can be reduced by a combination of supportive and calm behavior and appropriate medications

Activities that can be done to reduce outbursts of crying and shouting:

If you have checked that all the basic needs of the person with dementia have been met, but he is still shouting and crying, you must perform these calming actions:

  1. Playing favorite music – check with him what his favorite music is and play it for him, the music can calm him down and distract him.
  2. Interaction with small children – young children cause a lot of joy in life for older people in general and dementia patients in particular.
  3. Therapy using animals – a pet animal can develop a sense of empathy and love towards it on the part of the dementia patient and thus has a calming effect on the person with dementia.
  4. Fresh air – a change in one’s environment can always improve one’s day.
  5. Snack or drink – sometimes a tasty snack or drink can distract the person with dementia and provide them with temporary comfort.
  6. Gentle and soothing touch – try to hold his hand, caress his shoulder or comb his hair. These gestures, which express love and concern and not just help them in their day-to-day activities, greatly improve the quality of their lives and calm them down.

Important accessories and games for dementia patients.


In conclusion-

Sometimes, behaviors in dementia are like a challenging puzzle to solve. We don’t have the magic solution to solve it, but we know that there are things that can be done to ease and help.

As primary therapists and professional therapists, we constantly have to persevere and work to solve the puzzle. In the end, don’t forget that our stress may increase the anxiety and stress of the dementia patient.

Taking short breaks of a few minutes can prevent flooding in the therapist himself and the matter is important for the mental health of both the therapist and the patient. You are invited to share the article and also comment and make your comments about it in the comments below.

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