What to Know About Rude Public Displays in Early Dementia

Families of people recently diagnosed with dementia often complain or worry about personality changes they've begun to notice. One common variation: Someone who's always been polite, controlled, and socially appropriate begins to say and do uncharacteristic things in public.

What this can look like:

  • Being rude or short-tempered with guests, hosts, store clerks, and restaurant wait staff.

  • Eavesdropping in on -- and joining in on -- strangers' conversations.

  • Repeating stories over and over to clerks and other strangers.

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  • Later in dementia, some people lose social inhibition. Disinhibition causes similar behaviors.

But in mild dementia, it's more likely that your loved one is working so hard to manage (and perhaps cover up) deficits that he or she is simmering in a sort of frustrated rage much of the time, and the smallest thing raises the mood to a boil.

How to respond? Take the startled recipients of this kind of abuse aside and explain the facts. Chalk it up to the disease: "It's not you. It's not even him/her. It's the dementia."


over 2 years ago, said...

I find that if I tell people right off they are so understanding and kind. Sometimes I do dumb things from caregiver's fatigue and I just start by saying "I am a caregiver and I am tired!" It sure helps.


about 3 years ago, said...

This was VERY helpful. I'm definitely an introvert, and always appreciated "alone time" but thinking there was something wrong with me (or told so). Even now I'd rather shop alone and stay away from crowds and loud parties. As a caregiver, I am very kind to my clients but I can't get over the real stress their behavior in public can cause! I eventually stopped caring for the difficult ones and moved on. These were very good suggestions to help deal with awkward situations and to be empathetic and understanding of the disease.


over 3 years ago, said...

To me, this is not a helpful response. I shouldn't have to violate my father's privacy rights in order to respond to strangers. Let's rethink this....


about 4 years ago, said...

something else to be aware of and and one way to respond to it.


about 4 years ago, said...

Response to recipients oof "rude" behavior. Thank you


about 4 years ago, said...

Biggest change I have noticed is his withdrawal from starting a conversation. He still has his quick wit about him and the comebacks so far are appropriate to the remarks.


about 4 years ago, said...

It was just such a short article. I was looking for more information. Some anecdotes of actual episodes might be helpful. The anecdotes could be supplied anonymously.


over 4 years ago, said...

sorry, dementia.


over 4 years ago, said...

I had no idea that my husbands sudden habit of talking to strangers was related to his demtia, thank you. It also seems that he tells stories of things that make him happy, like he is afraid he will lose that memory if he doesn't keep talking about it.


over 4 years ago, said...

the internal possible conflicts/cover-up hard work of the patient. Thx


over 4 years ago, said...

Although I haven't seen any of this in my younger friend, it is helpful to have the information. My older friend who has more advanced AD displays all of thses behaviours.


about 5 years ago, said...

How to respond, was very helpful. Its been added to my coping tools. Thank you.