For most family members, the first signs of dementia are confusion and forgetfulness. The first signs of possible dementia that families overlook is marked changes in personality and behavior.
According to the research paper, Personality and Dementia, changes in personality may be the determining factor so that caricature or exaggeration of original personality emerges as dementia progresses.
Understanding a loved ones personality may be the best approach to early detection to dementia. A person’s personality is a dynamic and organized set of characteristics that uniquely influence a person’s cognition, motivation and behavior.
Noticing a difference in the way our loved ones behave can be a precursor to dementia. As the disease progresses, personality and behavioral changes are normal in the disease process. But what if you could detect dementia early on just by noticing these personality changes?
Alzheimer’s Disease: the most common form of dementia; are they more rigid? Do they seem apathetic or they don’t care about things they were passionate about? Do they have a false sense of self? Do they show diminished emotional response? How about anxiety or depression?
Frontotemperal: This dementia affects the frontal temporal lobes of the brain. This type of dementia has the most prominent changes in personality and behaviors. People with this type of dementia lose sensitivity to criticism, as well as diminished self-consciousness and emotional response. In other words, they know the difference between right and wrong but they don’t care. They become more assertive and louder when speaking.
Lewy Body Dementia: With this type of dementia you may notice increased apathy, decreased emotional response, giving up things that they are passionate about, such as hobbies.
Vascular Dementia: You may notice your loved one is less kind and less generous. They may become more sensitive to judgement. If your loved one is normally paranoid, they may become worse as the disease progresses.
There are some personality changes that are normal with aging, but if you notice some increased changes in personality, consult with your family practitioner!
Heather Reynolds is a nationally certified Alzheimer’s and dementia practitioner trainer, the educator for Mission Health Services, The Director of Memory Care at Crescent Senior Living. Heather specializes in memory care and meaningful activities.