Health > How To Deal With The Clinginess Of A Dementia Patient?
12th Jul 2022
Learn to Peacefully Cope with clinginess of dementia patients

How To Deal With The Clinginess Of A Dementia Patient?

“Did you know that as many as 7 out of 10 people with dementia might show clingy behavior? This is what we call the clinginess of  a dementia patient. In this blog, we talk about why and how people with dementia sometimes want to be with someone all the time. It’s like they feel lost or scared when they are alone. This clinginess of a dementia patient can be hard for families. Imagine feeling needed every minute of the day – it’s tough, right?

But why does this happen? We’ll explore the reasons behind the clinginess of a dementia patient and share some ideas to help you and them feel better. Remember, you’re not alone in this. So many families are learning how to make life good for their loved ones with dementia. Let’s find out together how to understand and help someone who always wants to be close.

What is Dementia?

A group of symptoms affecting a person’s memory, ability to think and socialise comprehensively describes dementia. Impairment of at least two main functions – memory loss and judgement – characterises this condition.


Signs of Dementia:

Early dementia symptoms include:

  • Facing problems remembering even not knowing the season, year, or month.
  • Difficulty in recalling names, places, words, etc.
  • Asking the same questions again and again.
  • Forgetting events or details that have just happened.
  • Sudden change in mood and behaviour.

Signs when Dementia is becoming severe include:

  • Reduction in rational thinking and ability to solve problems.
  • Difficulty remembering even daily tasks such as not remembering whether you have brushed your teeth or not.
  • Getting hallucinations or changes in sleeping patterns.
  • Increase in anxiety, frustration, agitation, sadness, or depression.
  • Difficulty in performing daily activities such as bathing, grooming, and eating.

This list is not conclusive, these are just general symptoms of Dementia. Each person diagnosed with the same may have different symptoms, depending on what brain area is affected.


Understanding the Root Causes of Neediness in Dementia Patients

Dementia doesn’t just erase memories; it fundamentally alters a person’s perception of the world. For those suffering from it, the gradual decline in cognitive abilities like thinking, remembering, and reasoning can be profoundly disorienting and frightening. This often manifests as what we see as the clinginess of  a dementia patient. They may feel overwhelmed by a sense of loss, not just of their memories but also of their independence and understanding of the world around them.

The behavior that we interpret as neediness or clinginess is essentially a cry for help. These individuals may experience profound feelings of depression, confusion, and insecurity as they struggle with their diminishing capabilities. They seek comfort and reassurance in the presence of others, especially caregivers and loved ones. Their clinginess can be a response to the fear of the unknown, the anxiety of being left alone, or the need for a familiar presence to anchor them in a world that seems increasingly unfamiliar.

Imagine the fear and uncertainty you might feel if you found yourself in an unfamiliar place with no recollection of how you got there. This is akin to the everyday experience of someone with dementia. In moments of intense anxiety, they might follow you, seek your attention, and even physically cling to you, driven by an innate need for comfort and security.

As caregivers or family members, it’s crucial to approach these situations with compassion and understanding. Recognize that these behaviors are driven by fear and confusion. Your patience, affection, and reassurance are vital in helping them navigate these challenging times.

Effective Strategies for Managing Clinginess of a Dementia Patient

When a loved one with dementia exhibits clingy behavior, it’s essential to understand that this is a normal response to their condition. The loss of memory and rational thinking skills leaves them feeling vulnerable and dependent on those they trust. They’re seeking security and love in a world that’s becoming increasingly confusing and frightening.

Consider the helplessness you’d feel if an injury or illness suddenly made you dependent on others for basic needs and mobility. For dementia patients, this sense of helplessness and dependency is amplified by the ongoing nature of their condition and their diminishing cognitive abilities. Even simple tasks can become challenging, leading to frustration and self-doubt.

To help manage clinginess of a dementia patient and provide them with a sense of security and normalcy, consider the following tips:
  • Create a Predictable Environment: Establishing a consistent daily routine can provide a sense of structure and predictability. This regularity can be calming in a world that often feels chaotic and confusing to a dementia patient.
  • Involve Them in Daily Activities: Assigning simple, manageable tasks can give them a sense of purpose and achievement. These tasks can range from household chores like sorting laundry or watering plants to hobbies they used to enjoy. The key is to ensure these activities are safe and within their capability level.
  • Reassurance and Communication: Regularly reassure them of your presence and support. When leaving, calmly explain where you are going and when you will return. Keeping communication clear and straightforward can help alleviate their anxiety.
  • Engage in Therapeutic Activities: Activities that focus on relaxation and enjoyment can help divert their attention from anxieties and fears. This could include listening to their favorite music, engaging in arts and crafts, or spending time in nature.
  • Seek Professional Support: Sometimes, professional help from therapists or support groups can offer additional strategies and respite care options. These resources can provide both you and your loved one with the support needed to manage the challenges of dementia.

By implementing these strategies with patience and empathy, you can help your loved one feel more secure and reduce the stress associated with clinginess. Remember, your support and understanding play a crucial role in enhancing their quality of life.

How is Dementia Diagnosed?

Cognitive and Neurological Tests: Doctors perform these tests to assess a person’s physical functioning. These include evaluations of memory, problem-solving abilities, language skills, math skills, balance, and reflexes.

Brain Scans: Medical professionals use these tests to identify strokes, tumors, or other issues that could cause dementia. They also check for changes in brain structure and function. The most common types of brain scans are:

Computed Tomography (CT): This method employs X-rays to create images of the brain and other organs.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This technique uses magnetic and radio waves to generate detailed images of body structures, tissues, organs, bones, and nerves.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET): This scan uses radiation to produce images of brain activity.
Psychiatric Evaluation: Psychiatrists conduct this test to determine whether depression or another mental health issue is responsible for the symptoms of dementia.

Genetic Tests: For rare forms of dementia linked to genetics, doctors may perform genetic testing to assess a person’s risk for dementia. After consulting with a doctor, families might undergo this testing.

Blood Tests: Doctors conduct these tests to measure levels of beta-amyloid, a protein that accumulates abnormally in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. These tests can help detect dementia at an early stage.

Key Facts:

  • Dementia is a syndrome in which there is deterioration in cognitive function beyond what might be expected from the usual consequences of biological ageing.
  • Although Dementia mainly affects older people, it is not an inevitable consequence of ageing.
  • Currently, more than 55 million people live with dementia worldwide, and there are nearly 10 million new cases yearly.
  • Dementia can happen due to various diseases and injuries that primarily or secondarily affect the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of Dementia and may contribute to 60-70% of cases.
  • Dementia is currently the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases and one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people globally.
  • Dementia has physical, psychological, social, and economic impacts, not only for people living with Dementia but also on their careers, families, and society.



The person suffering from Dementia requires your immense love, care, and support. They often feel depressed and cornered and thus require your undistracted time. Appreciate their small achievements and motivate them to reach for more. Spend more time with them and understand their needs.

You must always remember the quote by Mother Teresa, “We can cure physical disease with medicines, but the only cure for loneliness, despair and hopelessness is pure love.”


Read More: All About Dementia – Types, Causes, Stages, Risk Factors, and Treatment 


Do people with Dementia know they have it?

Generally, people who have Dementia don’t know what they are suffering from. This can be caused by anosognosia, which means “not to know a disease,” and is not the same as being in denial.


Do people with dementia sleep a lot?

People in their later stages of Dementia tend to sleep more and more because as Dementia progresses, the more damage it makes to a person’s brain and eventually makes it weaker over time.


What time of day is Dementia worse?

Fading light seems to be a trigger for a person who has Dementia. You will notice a big change in the late afternoon or early evening. Doctors had termed this Sundowning or Sundown syndrome, which worsens as the night goes on.


Why do dementia patients get up at night?

Experts believe that Dementia changes the brain cells, which affects a person’s circadian rhythms. When those rhythms get disrupted, the person often gets confused between morning and evening. This leads Dementia patient to become tired during the day and thus takes many naps and then stays up during the night.


How long can an 80-year-old live with Dementia?

Life expectancy reduces if a person gets diagnosed in their 80s or 90s. The average survival time for people diagnosed with Dementia is about four and a half years.


Does Dementia run in families?

Most people are concerned if they may inherit Dementia or pass on Dementia (hereditary). The majority of Dementia is not genetic, but there are very negligible chances of it being passed on.


When should Dementia patients go into care?

Dementia is progressive in nature, meaning the person suffering from the same will require more affection, care, and support as time progresses. If it has reached its limit, then that’s the time they may need 24-hour care.


Can a brain scan show Dementia?

Brain scans are often used to diagnose Dementia when nothing works. This can help in identifying any severe problems such as stroke or brain tumour but not necessarily can diagnose Dementia.


What is the best medication for Dementia?

No medication can completely cure Dementia. But doctors can recommend medications to treat problems like depression, trouble sleeping, anxiety, and irritation.


Why do Dementia patients fidget with blankets?

The person who has Dementia often show their anxiety or agitation by restlessly pulling at clothes or blankets, rubbing their hands together, and wringing their hands. Fidget blankets are one way to help them restore their calm.