As people age, it can cause a change in personality. It may be concerning to see a sudden shift in a loved one, but sometimes, the cause of the shift can be pinpointed to specific physical or mental health problems. That is why it is imperative to get these underlying conditions treated as soon as possible. In this post, we will take a look at common personality changes in the elderly, the causes of these personality changes, and when to be concerned.
Common Personality Changes in the Elderly
As people grow older, they may go through various shifts in behavior that can affect their personality. Though these changes differ from person to person, there are certain characteristics that are frequently seen in elderly individuals. These personality changes may include:
Agitation or moodiness
Impulsive or reckless behavior
Higher likelihood of making inappropriate comments.
Quieter or more reserved behavior
What Causes Personality Changes in the Elderly?
As people age, they may experience natural changes in their personality. However, sudden changes in an elderly person's behavior could be a sign of a more serious issue. These changes could be caused by a variety of factors, including:
Dementia. Conditions such as Alzheimer’s can often cause loss of inhibition and decrease energy levels while increasing feelings of agitation and anxiety. Speak to a doctor to determine the best ways to manage these symptoms.
Depression. Medical conditions can often trigger depression, which can create feelings of isolation. Some of these symptoms can be managed with medication or by speaking with a mental health professional.
Hearing difficulties. An inability to hear properly can often cause frustration. Seniors should speak to an audiologist to see if a hearing aid is necessary.
Medication side effects. Since older adults may have to take multiple prescriptions, it could result in mood changes such as irritability. Caregivers should speak to a doctor about adjustments or to see if there is a non-medicinal alternative.
Stroke. This serious medical condition can leave a lasting change to a senior’s personality and affect the parts of the brain responsible for decision-making, communication, and cognitive abilities.
Urinary tract infections. Older adults with vaginas who develop UTIs are vulnerable to personality changes, such as agitation, mood swings, and forgetfulness. These can often mimic symptoms of dementia and seniors should receive prompt medical care.
Vision problems. Untreated conditions with the eyes, such as cataracts, can often cause hallucinations. It is best to get a vision test to treat these conditions.
Noticing a change in the personality of a loved one can be extremely stressful, especially if you are unsure of the cause or severity. Let's explore when it is appropriate to be worried about behavioral changes in older adults.
Download Our Guide to Dealing with Elderly Anger
When to be Concerned About Personality Changes in the Elderly
Elderly behavior problems are typically part of the aging process, but if a senior is feeling generally happy and healthy, there is no need to be concerned. However, if the behavior is harmful or interferes with quality of life, it can be a sign of a serious health problem. It should also be a sign of concern if the behavioral change is sudden or dramatic. As always, it is best to see a physician to rule out any physical or mental health symptoms that may be contributing to the personality changes.