In the context of dementia and other geriatric mental health conditions, the terms ‘responsive behaviours’ or ‘personal expressions’ are the preferred terms used to describe how a person’s words and actions are a form of meaningful communication, often of unmet needs. These behaviours/expressions are the result of internal changes in the brain that may be affecting mood, judgment, perception and memory and/or external changes in the person’s environment. Reframing these behaviours to be a form of communication of an unmet need helps to prompt discovery for the contributing factors behind an individual’s behaviour/expression. Responsive behaviours/personal expressions can be verbal (e.g., crying, grunting, yelling, asking repetitive questions, cursing) or physical (e.g., banging, kicking, collecting items, fidgeting, grabbing, spitting, pacing).

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