3 Personality Changes You Might Notice With Dementia
Among the most difficult things about having a loved one with dementia is the change it brings in both personality and behavior.
Among the most difficult things about having a loved one with dementia is the change it brings in both personality and behavior. When the brain progressively deteriorates as a result of this condition, it can cause someone to become vastly different from the person you once knew. Sometimes, these dementia personality changes are gradual and subtle, while in other cases, they come on suddenly and dramatically. Below, we’ll discuss three personality changes you might notice with dementia and what you can do to help care for people who suffer from it.
1. Increased Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are among the most common early symptoms of dementia. This is understandable, of course, as the condition often leads to a reduced quality of life that can leave sufferers apathetic and unhappy. And while everyone experiences periods of feeling sad and moody, the anxiety and depression that come with dementia can appear very suddenly and unexpectedly. This can lead to a loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyed, as well as social withdrawal, which of course can then further exacerbate the depression. Sufferers may also lose interest in daily activities, including bathing and other hygiene habits.
Unlike other forms of depression, antidepressants do not seem to help dementia sufferers. However, caregivers can assist people with the condition by ensuring they regularly engage in enjoyable activities, including plenty of social interaction. Continued physical activity is also crucial.
2. Confusion and Paranoia
One of the other most common dementia personality changes is paranoia. Sufferers may have difficulty processing events, which may lead them to become suspicious of others, even accusing them of behaviors such as theft, hiding things, and infidelity. The memory loss that frequently accompanies dementia may reinforce these incorrect beliefs, which are very real to the person suffering from dementia.
As a caregiver, it’s important not to argue with a person who is suffering from this type of paranoia. Do not take what they say personally, but instead acknowledge what they say, responding with simple answers. In many cases, you may be able to diffuse the issue by simply changing the subject or asking for assistance with another activity.
Often, persons suffering from dementia will wander, a behavior that can end up with them getting lost or putting themselves in danger. Dementia personality changes can lead to a person having difficulty remembering familiar places and people, which can trigger them to try to get themselves elsewhere.
You can help to address this problem by keeping distractions near exits so that the person has something to look at when they’re thinking of wandering. Inform others in the area that the person might wander and ensure that they have a wristband or something else to identify them if they should be found outside.
You can also help by ensuring that the person isn’t left unattended and that they have caregivers who can ensure their safety by keeping an eye on them 24/7. Often, a dedicated assisted living community such as the Mission at Agua Fria is the safest place for a person who wanders as a result of dementia.