Behavioral Therapy 101: Adjusting Your Dementia Care Approach

Until there is a cure for dementias like Alzheimer’s, it’s essential to find alternative ways to alleviate the disease’s symptoms and challenging behaviors.

“Luckily, there are options for caregivers to help loved ones exhibiting difficult symptoms and challenging behaviors associated with memory loss,” says Andrea Shapiro, Community Relations Director at YourLife™ of Coconut Creek, a Memory Care community in Coconut Creek, Florida. “Certain medications can help, but some non-pharmacological solutions can also provide a higher quality of life for a longer period.”

In this post, we’ll explore behavioral therapy techniques that will benefit your loved one and improve your caregiving journey.


As the name might suggest, behavioral therapy is often practiced by trained and licensed therapists. However, family caregivers also use it, often with great success. Behavioral therapy involves applying relatively simple behavioral approaches, such as positive reinforcement, and focuses on the causes and consequences of behavior.

Common behavior-altering dementia symptoms traditionally treated with medication include anxiety, depression, wandering, aggressiveness, insomnia, and others. Using psychology-based methods can help you control seemingly uncontrollable situations to relieve such symptoms, often more effectively than medications.


Adding behavioral therapy techniques to your daily caregiving routine and interactions with your loved one can help both of you communicate more effectively to defuse situations – and, more importantly, avoid or address what causes them to begin with. Try adopting some of these specific behavioral therapy techniques:

  • Stress management to keep your loved one relaxed and calm 
  • Music or art therapy to relieve boredom, anxiety and depression
  • Learning your loved one’s A-B-C (antecedent-behavior-consequence) Behavior Chain so you have a better understanding of what precipitated the behavior and what the result was to alleviate future issues
  • Special alarms like Reminder Rosie on which you can record your voice, prompting your loved one to take their medication or have a snack
  • Positive reinforcement for desired behaviors
  • Clearly stated step-by-step instructions
  • Picking your battles: which behaviors must be addressed, which can – safely – be allowed to run their course

Techniques such as these do not require extensive training, and the recipient will not suffer from side effects as they might with medication, making such interventions ideal options for both the caregiver and their loved one.


A happier loved one is a happier caregiver. But beyond that, caregivers can also use behavioral therapy tactics to restrict their own upsetting and negative thoughts and increase self-efficacy. When caring for your loved one with memory loss takes its physical or emotional toll, try applying the same therapies you use to reduce your loved one’s stress and anxiety to manage your own.


If your loved one is experiencing difficulty with their diagnosis or severe anxiety and/or depression, you may consider making an appointment with a professional counselor. For people living with dementia, therapy will provide different benefits depending on the stage they are in. There are resources available to help you find certified mental health experts in your area, whether to help your loved one directly or to provide you and your family with dementia care support and behavioral therapy education.


Our Memory Care professionals are standing by to help your family provide the best possible care and quality of life for your loved one. Call today and ask about the free Caregiver Support Groups at YourLife™ of Coconut Creek! ​954-228-6319


Inspiring Memory Care Designed for You. Defined by You.
YourLife™ of Coconut Creek was created to provide the most exceptional Memory Care and uplifting lifestyle for our residents. We focus all our energy, attention and resources on creating a community that caters to each resident’s personal needs, respects their choices and honors individuality while providing unmatched peace of mind and support for families.

Because Memory Care is our sole focus, we have the unique ability to design and personally tailor plans around our residents. We understand that each resident is an individual that has their own story, specific needs and retained abilities, so we develop personally inspired care plans that value and support each person’s independence.

Our team of attentive, caring YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists is on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide assistance with everyday activities, gentle reminders and redirection.

With YourStory, our signature programming, we create an individual experience centered around each resident. From cultural, educational and holistic health and wellness programming, outings and an array of other special events to personal care, assistance and therapies, we create days with meaning. At YourLife™ of Coconut Creek, our residents and families know that this is a community designed for you, with a lifestyle defined by you. Contact us to learn more!

Call us at 954-228-6319 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.