Is a senior you love acting differently? Maybe an easy going parent has become more irritable and unpredictable? Or has an always upbeat grandparent withdrawn from favorite pastimes and hobbies?

A change in personality, such as increased anxiety, irritability, and depression can all be early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Personality Changes to Look for in a Senior Loved One

A senior may be easily distracted or confused in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease.  For this reason, they may become upset at even simple changes in routine. Or they may withdraw from social networks because they know something is wrong and hope to prevent others from noticing.

On the other hand, a loss of judgment is also common in early Alzheimer’s. It can cause a typically reserved senior to become outgoing and gregarious. They may even act inappropriately and say tactless things because they lose their ability to tell the difference.

Most times, you will notice other changes as well. Common signs of early Alzheimer’s might include:

  • Difficulty maintaining a conversation
  • Forgetting familiar names, places, or faces
  • Forgetting events and appointments and not recalling them later
  • Repeating themselves or asking the same question multiple times
  • Habitually misplacing items

Exploring Other Causes for Changes in a Senior

Before you jump to the conclusion that a senior you love has Alzheimer’s disease, know that there may be other explanations for the changes you see.

Causes of Depression and Irritability

Depression and irritability can both be caused by aging-related losses. Maybe your senior loved one recently had a close companion relocate to be nearer to their children. Or perhaps they are dealing with health conditions that make it more difficult to participate in hobbies and interests they’ve always enjoyed.

Personality Changes Caused by Medication

Another source for a personality change in a senior might be a medication side effect or interaction. Review your aging loved one’s medications with their pharmacist or physician. Ask if any of them might be creating the problem.

Infection or Thyroid Disease

There are also a variety of health conditions that closely mimic Alzheimer’s. A urinary tract infection (UTI) and thyroid disease are two of the most common ones. Share your concerns with their physician who may want to order blood work to make the determination.

Talk with a Physician or Health Professional about a Memory Screening

If you want to explore the issue further but your senior loved one is reluctant to see their physician, a memory screening might be the answer. It is a non-threatening way to investigate the problem. While it can’t provide a definitive diagnose, it is 80 to 90 percent accurate in detecting memory-related issues.