Now and then, a senior citizen may start acting and sounding like a young child. Most of the time, this behavior may be caused by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. While these episodes might not always occur every day, it is still very concerning to family, loved ones, and even a caregiver.
While most of the episodes tend to happen during the daytime, aged persons may also become much more detrimental during the evening. Just like a child, an elderly person may find one person that they can become entirely dependent and comfortable upon; they may ask their family member or caregiver to remain close to them during the night. This is because elderly people, especially those with dementia and Alzheimer’s, are typically tired and may be worn down at the end of the day. This is why the confusion and fearfulness may increase in the nighttime.
Like with children, this fearfulness becomes even more confusing, which can cause the person to become more fearful about his surroundings. It is a lot of negativity for them; that is why these childlike behaviors worsen each day.
Take note that this behavior can get so extreme that they may have a hard time going to the bathroom alone. They will tend to freak out and act like a child having a tantrum.
Keep in mind that a senior who is confused, afraid, frustrated, and unable to communicate effectively can be easily stressed and agitated. They may rely on some lies or comforting words to fill the gaps in their memory. Along with this, they may perform childlike behaviors such as downright noncompliance with one’s requests or instructions and emotional outbursts.
What Can Cause a Sudden Change in Personality?
Personality changes are common throughout one’s lifespan. However, dramatic personality changes usually happen in older adults. When this happens, it is typically a sign of a deeper problem. Here is a common causes of sudden and drastic personality change:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Drug interaction
- Poor Sleep
- Grief caused by loss of freedom or loved ones
When you notice rapid mood swings that do not have a logical reason behind them, you may need to speak up and make sure that your parents or grandparents see a doctor as soon as possible.
What Are Some Examples of Behavioral Changes?
- Threatening or Aggressive Behavior – When an elderly person exhibits threatening or aggressive behaviors, it can be traumatizing or frightening for family members or caregivers. Most of the time, when a gentle, loved one starts acting aggressively, there must be something that is triggering them to do so. That is why you need to consider the elder’s psychosocial environment as a possible trigger. If something in their environment makes them feel a strong emotion such as anger or sadness, aggressive behavior may be their standard response. When this happens, try offering them comfort foods, play their favorite music, or divert their attention to help create a calm environment.
- Apathy – This behavior is one of the expected changes that is associated with dementia. While family members and caregivers may notice this behavior, the person experiencing dementia may not be aware of their apathetic state. Apathy can be a lack of interest, enthusiasm, and passivity. This behavioral change could be disturbing and worrying for family members if their loved one was once energetic and vibrant. When this happens, make sure that you carefully understand the apathy and why it is happening to your loved one. Proper training and education can lead to a fruitful relationship with the elder who is experiencing apathy.
- Compulsive Behavior – Some seniors may start to show compulsive behaviors such as obsessive organization, unusual hoarding, frequent visits to the bathroom, cleaning practices, or even dramatic changes in eating habits. Keep in mind that compulsive behaviors are not done on purpose, and they are usually triggered by forgetfulness or anxiety. The best way to support an elderly that has compulsive behavior is to be supportive and make sure that their needs are always met. Keep in mind that if their compulsive behavior is not interfering with their everyday lives, it may sometimes be best to ignore or avoid bringing it up. Compulsive behavior can be caused by anxiety and stress.