Since Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease, it affects all aspects of a person’s mental ability. A person’s thinking, reasoning, and memory are affected, and also their personality.
What does it mean to have a changed personality? Well, for as many different personality traits a person could have and does have, before the disease, there’s potential for some or all of these to be affected and altered as the brain degenerates. For example, a person who is known to be on an even keel and calm could change into a frazzled and frightened person. Another who may have been extremely shy and reserved might become expressive and over the top outgoing. A person who could have been easily angered and irritable before the disease could become as gentle as a baby. There can be slight to extreme changes in anyone with Alzheimer’s disease.
Change in personality, due to having Alzheimer’s disease, is simply because the person’s brain function is deteriorating. A person’s personality is instinctual behaviour as well as learned actions – it’s based on a person’s way of thinking, learning, understanding, and emotions. This disease makes a person unlearn what he or she knows, understands and remembers; this can include forgetting learned and even instinctual mannerisms.
Change in personality can be a key factor in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease. The earlier we recognize personality change, the more prepared one can be to deal with the disease when diagnosed. You can learn more about dementia in chapter 3 of my book, “Cracking the Dementia Code – Creative Solutions to Cope with Changed Behaviours”.
If you notice a very distinct change in someone’s behaviour, it might be a good idea to have him or her assessed by a specialist, in case Alzheimer’s disease is the cause.
Karen Tyrell, CDP, CPCA
Personalized Dementia Solutions