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Personality Changes in Seniors: An Early Sign of Alzheimer’s?

Personality Changes in Seniors: An Early Sign of Alzheimer’s?

Is your aging loved one suddenly acting different? Does your normally cool-as-a-cucumber parent now suffer from anxiety? Is he or she more irritable than usual? Does your loved one seem to be depressed?

Anxiety, irritability, and depression can all be early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease. So are mood swings and paranoia.

Other Personality Changes to Look Out For

An older adult in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may become confused easily.  For this reason, they might crave routine or avoid new experiences and surroundings. They might become withdrawn, because they sense something is wrong and they don’t want others to notice.

On the other hand, some seniors in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may become more outgoing and gregarious. They might also begin to lose their sense of judgement or may not be able to determine “appropriate” behaviors in specific circumstances.

Exploring Other Causes for Personality Changes

Before you jump to the conclusion that it is Alzheimer’s disease, recognize that there are a number of other causes for personality changes. To discover if there could be another explanation, talk to your loved one and try to find out what’s bothering them.

Causes of Depression and Irritability

Depression and irritability can be caused by normal aging. Perhaps your loved one recently lost a close friend. Or maybe they are struggling to accept that the physical signs of aging are making it harder to participate in activities they used to love.  These types of events and situations can cause depression in many people.

Personality Changes Caused by Medication or Diet

Review the medications your loved one takes. Are they taking any new over-the-counter or prescription drugs? Are personality changes listed as a possible side effect? Could a drug interaction be causing problems?

Also consider your loved one’s diet. Certain vitamin deficiencies can cause personality changes. For instance, some studies have linked a vitamin D deficiency to depression.

So, Is It Alzheimer’s?

If you’ve explored other possibilities and still can’t pinpoint a cause for your loved one’s behavior and emotions, it could be time to delve deeper to see if they have other possible signs of Alzheimer’s.

Most times, personality changes will not occur in the early stages without other symptoms. Look for other common signs of Alzheimer’s, such as:

  • Difficulty following story lines
  • Forgetting familiar names, places, or faces
  • Forgetting facts and not recalling them later
  • Repeating themselves
  • Habitually misplacing items

Talk with a Physician or Health Professional about a Memory Screening

If your senior loved one exhibits any of the above symptoms in conjunction with changes in their personality, consider a memory screening. While it can’t provide a definitive diagnose, it is 80 to 90 percent accurate in detecting memory problems.

If it’s Alzheimer’s, Five Star Senior Living Is Here To Help

If your suspicions were correct and your senior loved one’s doctors determine they have Alzheimer’s, Five Star Senior Living can help. Our personalized memory care program is based on a customized plan of action for each resident. Contact us today to learn more.

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