Alzheimer’s disease and Personality Changes – What you can do
Alzheimer’s disease and Personality Changes
One of the most distressing aspects of Alzheimer’s disease is the complete personality change suffered by many people.
“This is especially distressing for the relatives and friends of the person with Alzheimer’s. The general behavior and personality of someone with Alzheimer’s often seems to be in complete contrast to typical behavior exhibited throughout the patient’s life,” says Barbara Jones.
Another facet of personality change due to Alzheimer’s disease is the occasional emergence of an underlying feature of the person’s character which had previously been well-hidden.
For instance, previously unnoticed spiteful traits can be revealed. There is also a common tendency in Alzheimer’s disease, mainly in the later stages, for anxiety, nervousness or verbal and physical aggression to surface.
Many Alzheimer’s sufferers retain their personality, albeit with accompanying memory loss and orientation problems. However, others can exhibit varying mood swings which can fluctuate from being ecstatically happy to very sad.
In the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, these underlying traits can become very prominent and problematic. For example, combating verbal aggression or continuing anxiety may require continuous reassurance from caregivers and friends.
Very often personal hygiene becomes a major issue for those with Alzheimer’s disease. Washing and bathing often becomes sporadic or is forgotten altogether. Additionally, those who were formerly very fastidious in areas of hygiene may become very lax. This can be very distressing for the friends and relatives of the person who is ill with Alzheimer’s, especially if clothing is stained with urine or feces.
It is common for the person with Alzheimer’s to leave the toilet before they are entirely finished or to be inefficient in cleaning after relieving themselves. Therefore, odor as well as soiled clothes and hands can be problematic. Undressing in public and inadvertent genital exhibition or fondling can also become a problem if not carefully monitored. It can be a source of untold embarrassment to relatives and caregivers.
It is important for caregivers and relatives to take into account that the acts of soiling or untoward behavior need to addressed while remembering the value of maintaining the patient’s dignity at all times. Dignity is a very precious commodity when suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, as their dignity is often all they have remaining.