. Responding positively with Alzheimer’s Behaviors:
Dementia Personality Changes
Written by Claire M. Henry, M.Ed.,CDP
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 becomes 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 and physical behavior symptoms. Changes in behavioral
symptoms to be assessed:
3. Want to go home (usually looking for childhood home)
5. Lack of participation in usual activities
6. Lack of interest in self or surroundings
7. Fatigue and weariness
8. Expressions of guilt and/ or worthlessness
9. Expressions of anger (verbal and physical)
10. Changes in appetite (increase r decrease)
11. Change in customary (usual) routine
12. Isolation (pushing others away)
13. Talk of suicide
Helpful Care Partner Tips:
~Assist the Care Partner with acceptance that personality changes are
result of changes occurring in the brain.
~Assess triggers to behavior, including the individual’s need for safety and
security, self-worth and dignity.
~Suspicious Behavior: use calm, reassuring approach. Understand the
individual’s reality and inability to recognize objects and familiar people.
~Hallucinations: Do not attempt to reason with client. Comfort fears within
quiet environment. May need intervention from medical personnel.
~Catastrophic Reactions: Not recommended to restrain, remove source of
stress, redirect to calmer environment. Assess for safety and emergency
~Wandering, pacing, shadowing care partner: assess for environment or
behavioral triggers. Behavior triggers such as, “Is the client looking for the
bathroom, are they experiencing pain”?
~Sundowning Behaviors: afternoon agitation, assess for behavior triggers.
Behavior triggers such as “Does the client need a nap? Assess
environmental lighting? Is there sleep disturbance?
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 at 781-540-1526.