In dementia, the brain loses a number of abilities. This can change a person’s personality and behavior. Use this tip sheet’s suggestions to better understand them.
Changes in the way people act can be one of the biggest challenges in caring for people with Alzheimer’s.
There is much you can do to smooth the journey.
Common Changes in Personality and Behavior
Common personality and behavior changes you may see include:
Getting upset, worried, and angry more easily
Acting depressed or not interested in things
Hiding things or believing other people are hiding things
Imagining things that aren’t there
Wandering away from home
Pacing a lot
Showing unusual sexual behavior
Hitting you or other people
Misunderstanding what he or she sees or hears
You also may notice that the person stops caring about how he or she looks, stops bathing, and wants to wear the same clothes every day.
In addition to changes in the brain, other things may affect how people with
- Feelings such as sadness, fear, stress, confusion, or anxiety
Health-related problems, including illness, pain, new medications, or lack of sleep
Other physical issues like infections, constipation, hunger or thirst, or problems seeing or hearing
Problems in their surroundings, like too much noise or being in an unfamiliar place
If you don’t know what is causing the problem, call the doctor. It could be caused by a physical or medical issue.
Keep Things Simple… and Other Tips
Caregivers cannot stop Alzheimer’s-related changes in personality and behavior, but
they can learn to cope with them. Here are some tips:
Keep things simple. Ask or say one
thing at a time.
Have a daily routine, so the person
knows when certain things will
Reassure the person that he or she is
safe and you are there to help.
Focus on his or her feelings rather
than words. For example, say,
“You seem worried.”
Don’t argue or try to reason with the
Try not to show your frustration or
anger. If you get upset, take deep
breaths and count to 10. If it’s safe,
- leave the room for a few minutes.
- Use humor when you can.
- Give people who pace a lot a safe place to walk.
- Try using music, singing, or dancing to distract the person.
- Ask for help. For instance, say, “Let’s set the table” or “I need help folding the clothes.”
Talk with the person’s doctor about problems like hitting, biting, depression, or
hallucinations. Medications are available to treat some behavioral symptoms.
For more caregiving tips
and other resources:
- Read “Caring for a Person with
Alzheimer’s Disease: Your Easy-to-Use Guide”
- Visit www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/topics/caregiving
- Call the ADEAR Center toll-free:
The Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center is a service of the National Institute on Aging,
part of the National Institutes of Health. The Center offers information and publications for families, caregivers,
and professionals about Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive changes.
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Thanks Mrs StClair My loved one was diagnosed over 7 years ago. Meds taken were Aricept (now replaced by Donepezil) and Namenda. Short term memory is now gone but other functions still mostly ok
My husband has been on Namenda for about 4 years and does mostly ok but his short term memory has gotten much worse. I can count on him not remembering things.
People those are suffering from mental disorder and imbalance are also suffering from personality disorder and behavior. Which directly puts an impact on their personality and behavior; most probably it is quite common to notice some kind of changes in behavior and personality as the mental disorder person unable to identify his or her current status and ability.
As a caretaker how do you deal with your own feelings regarding issues that existed in the relationship prior to the suspicion of Alzheimer. Do you suppress your own thoughts and positions. Is there a good reference that would cover this area.
I've had this question myself and wondered about it. I think that I have let go of my own thoughts as they are no longer as important to me. I replaced them with the day at a time thinking and the here and now. I am never going to change my DW opinion anyway. I may change my approach so the same outcome is achieved.
Good question. I have not found ANY support for care-givers – lots of books – no personal support at all
Husband has dementia, when he changes clothes he mixes them with clean clothes, puts wet diapers in basket with dirty clothes. When take him shopping he takes stuff, candy bar & just starts eating. Do I just keep up after him, suggesting he does not do this is not working. am at a loss of what to do.
My father appears to have reached the stage where none of the 11 tips above work although I do use them.I find there is a 24 hour pattern to his behaviour and our day.All I can do is sit it out,keep him safe and be patient until his mood swings change.I find his moods go on from around 12 middday until 6 on a night.Shortly after that he goes too sleep only to wake up in the middle of the night with incontinence.