Healthy Living

Alzheimer's Disease and Personality Changes

Alzheimer's Disease and Personality Changes

Alzheimer's Disease and Personality Changes

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, also known as AD, many individuals suffer from behavioral and personality changes. Often times, people with AD become confused, frightened, or rely on a family member. With AD, a loved one may experience mood swings or lash out for no apparent reason.

“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, author of several online magazines. 

Some of the commonly observed personality changes include a lack of interest or disinclination to take any initiative; inability to make decisions or to interpret common daily situations; pacing; feeling paranoid; depression; inability to take care of themselves or to maintain proper hygiene; expressing certain unusual sexual behavior; withdrawing from family, friends, or relatives; and experiencing instances of anger or worry.

Alzheimer’s disease is known to damage multiple portions of the brain, thereby causing a negative effect on the individual’s cognitive abilities. When a part of the brain fails to properly perform, it starts to produce mixed feelings or entire changes in one’s personality. During the advanced stages of this disease, an individual is often unable to perform their daily activities, and other symptoms will also arise.

A new method of diagnosis has been proposed called mild behavioral impairment, or MBI. It could allow for early detection of this condition by identifying any unusual changes in the personality or behavior of the individual, which most of the time is overlooked in AD. There is a checklist of 34 questions that would help to recognize a new clinical stage for this disease to better identify who is at a greater risk for AD.

Completing this checklist would allow the doctor to identify if a patient has MBI, which could entail future neuropsychiatric symptoms of AD. The study states that affirmative answers to the questions on the checklist could indicate early-stage AD. This MBI checklist would then be refined and also confirmed by the Alzheimer’s community since it would not only be significant on a clinical basis, but also for future research. This would help to derive a version for family members of older adults with AD to determine the extent as well as the nature of the symptoms and how to measure the changes occurring over time.

Another study investigated the changes in personality related to dementia. The findings reinforced the belief that certain personality changes associated with AD are due to various risk factors instead of being a consequence of the disease itself. There are more than a million people suffering from AD and the number is only expected to grow, but researchers are continuing to try to discover ways to identify the symptoms early on so patients can receive the best care possible.