Dementia Care: How to Cope With Personality Change
The American Psychological Association defines personality as “individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.” Our personality evolves and develops along our lifespan. More drastic changes in personality sometimes accompany dementia. These dementia personality changes can be unexpected for both the person living with dementia and those that love them.
What is Dementia?
“Dementia is a group of syndromes or conditions where the symptoms must be seen and supported as cognitive dis-Abilities.” – Kate Swaffer, Dementia Alliance International, Advocate Living with Dementia
When one is given a diagnosis of dementia, it means the way they think or their cognition has changed in at least two of the following six ways:
- Complex Attention. Our ability to stay focused, pay attention and multitask.
- Executive Functioning. Our ability to plan, organize and make decisions.
- Memory. Our ability to retain information and remember things in the short and long-term.
- Language. Our ability to find the words we want to use for a given concept and to understand words when spoken to us.
- Perceptual Motor. Our ability to understand what we see and translate it into meaningful information.
- Social-Cognition. Our ability to understand and express emotions.
Dementia is an umbrella term that covers lots of different types of cognitive change. There are over ten types of dementia and they are named for their suspected cause. For example, Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia named after the doctor that found the plaques and tangles thought to be its cause.