Responding Positively to Alzheimer’s Behaviors: Dementia Personality Changes

Dementia can be defined as a gradual deterioration of the brain.  Very often, the individual with dementia is experiencing subtle personality changes prior to the pervading symptoms of the actual memory loss.  The impairment associated with the disease can significantly change the individual’s behavior and functional status. In addition, the personality changes associated with the disease process very often become amplified  in the early phases of the illness, requiring support for the care partner.

Personality changes in a person suffering with dementia can be diagnosed through the examination of psychological,  physical, and behavioral symptoms.  Changes in personality to assess include:

1. Suspiciousness

2. Fear

3. Wanting to go home.

4. Crying.

5. Lack of participation in activities.

6. Lack of interest in self or surroundings.

7. Fatique and weariness.

8. Expressions of guilt.

9. Expressions of anger (verbal and physical).

10. Change in appetite (increase or decrease).

11. Change in customary patterns or routine.

12. Self-isoloation.

13. Talk of suicide.

Helpful Care Partner tips:

~Assist the care partner with acceptance of the personality changes are a result of changes occurring within the brain.

~Assess triggers to behavior, including the individual’s need for security, self-worth and dignity.

~Assess for medical interventions and referrals to ensure the safety of the client.

Behavioral Approaches:

~Suspicious Behavior: Use calm, reassuring approaches.

~Hallucinations: Do not attempt to reason with client. Comfort fears within a quiet environment.

~Catastrophic Reactions: Not recommended to restrain, remove source of stress, redirect to a calmer environment.

~Wandering, pacing, shadowing care partner: assess for environment or behavioral triggers. Is the client looking for the bathroom, are they experiencing pain?

~Sundowning: afternoon agitation, assess for behavior triggers. Does the client need a nap? Assess the environments  lighting. Can the client be redirected to different activity.

Caring Resources is committed to providing professional care partners with the necessary skills and resources to enable them to provide exceptional care to their clients.  Our training and educational modules are geared to professionals working in both community-based and residential care settings. For more information contact a representative today.


One thought on “Responding Positively to Alzheimer’s Behaviors: Dementia Personality Changes

  1. These are really great tips. having been a professional caretaker, and an advocate for families with loved ones suffering from dementia, to have these suggestions in one place is a great resource. Bravo to you. I look forward to following your future blog entries.

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