Dementia is an umbrella term for several diseases that affect memory, thinking, and the ability to perform daily activities rather than one single condition.

While memory loss is the best-known sign linked to the mind-robbing condition, your behaviour could also hold clues.

Smriti Joshi, Lead Psychologist at Wysa, said: “Individuals with dementia can often seem like very different people when compared to their premorbid personality or their “old self” and these changes can be hard.

“[They] often act in ways that are very different from their “old self,” and these changes can often come as a “rude shock” for family and friends, leaving them confused and frustrated.”

While some kinds of dementia like frontal-temporal dementia can trigger sudden, drastic personality changes, other behavioural changes may not be too immediate. 

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According to the expert, some of the first changes that can strike are sudden mood swings.

“It’s often these changes that alert the family members that their loved one needs professional assessment and evaluation,” Joshi said.

However, there are many different personality changes that are worth knowing, including:

  • Indifference towards self and others or apathy
  • Being easily irritable
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Anxiety
  • Low mood
  • Changes in sleep routines or patterns
  • Eating disorders marked by reduced or increased appetite or preferences for specific flavours like sweets
  • Rapid mood swings often for no apparent reason
  • Loss of interest in activities they earlier enjoyed
  • Deteriorating self-care
  • Increased suspiciousness
  • Delusional thinking
  • Social withdrawal
  • Finding it difficult to make decisions and take initiative for even routine tasks.

Once you identify any new behaviours or changes, the expert recommended speaking to a doctor.

Joshi said: “You must report these changes to their treating physician.

“If they have already received a diagnosis, the treating physician could offer prescriptions to manage some of these changes, say mood swings or sleep-related issues and also signpost you to some other care professionals who could help your loved one with some of these changes.”

One of the reasons why dementia can present with behavioural changes comes down to people with the condition losing neurons.

Neurons describe nerve cells that send messages all over your body to allow you to do everything, including breathing, talking, eating, walking, and thinking.

For example, when people lose neurons in the frontal lobe, which helps to control your impulses, it can result in people being apathetic, rude, or less motivated.

Joshi added: “Because dementia can impact memory, speech, movements and sensory abilities, it can change how people with dementia will respond to what others say, or they may get overwhelmed, or triggered by loud noises or crowded places or just their own frustration, arising from poor sleep or movement-related challenges etc. 

“Some medications can also impact their mood or alertness.”

Post source: Daily Express

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