Your mom or other close family member has always been kind, quick-witted, and passionate. Even as she’s gotten older, she’s maintained her friendly and mild-mannered temperament. One day, though, you notice that she’s suddenly changed and is no longer acting like her typical self. She’s quick to lash out, skeptical of family, and apathetic about things she used to love.
This type of behavior can be alarming and scary, especially if it’s completely unlike your mother to act in that way. You may be wondering why this is happening, how you should react, and if there’s something wrong with this important person in your life.
In situations like this, the unfortunate reality is that a sudden personality change could indicate a more significant issue. However, by properly educating yourself on the causes of a sudden personality change, and what you can do about it, you can ensure that your parent or family member receives the proper attention and care they need.
What Does a Drastic and Sudden Change in Personality Mean?
It’s not uncommon for our personalities to change as we get older. Life events and experiences can alter our viewpoints, thoughts, and actions, gradually shifting our personalities. When a personality change isn’t gradual or subtle, though, it could be a warning sign of something serious.
Common Examples of Sudden Personality Changes Include:
- Suddenly losing interest in family, friends, or hobbies
- Becoming easily aggressive or agitated
- Lashing out or excessive cursing or insults
- Developing beliefs of being in danger
- Displaying a new recklessness of lack of judgment
- No longer finding eating or other pleasurable experiences enjoyable
Abrupt and extreme changes like these can be the result of either mental changes, physical/medical changes, or sometimes both.
Understanding Personality Changes Due to Physical Health
Sometimes, an unexpected change in the way your parent or family member acts can be due to an undetected physical issue or infection. In older adults, physical pain and irritation can cause agitation, confusion, or withdrawal—especially in adults who may not be able to communicate their symptoms.
Sudden Personality Changes Could Be the Result of the Following Physical Issues:
- Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
- Lack of sleep
- Negative reaction to a medication
- Digestive issues
Understanding Personality Changes Due to Mental Health
Other times, a sudden personality change can be attributed to a change in the brain’s frontal lobe, which can be an early indicator of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. In its early stages, dementia can affect an individual’s ability to focus, make decisions, stay motivated, or respond appropriately to their environment. Changes in the frontal lobe can also impact a person’s impulse control, resulting in lashing out or being insensitive.
Coping with these sudden changes can be challenging for family and friends. It can be difficult to watch a close family member experience behavior changes that are out of their control, and even more difficult to know how to handle these situations. Fortunately, there are steps you can take and strategies you can use to effectively communicate with a parent or loved one who is acting out and ensure they get the proper attention and care.
Handling Sudden Personality Changes
First, it’s important to understand if something specific caused the sudden personality change or outburst. Try and identify if there was a specific event that made your mom lash out. Was there a change in her daily routine? Did she wake up in the middle of the night? Determining any potential triggers can help to provide care more effectively and manage her change in behavior.
Seek Professional Advice
If you can’t identify what’s causing this unexpected change in personality, it’s best to consider an evaluation by their healthcare provider. They can work to detect any physical changes that could be causing pain or irritation and can give you direction on how to manage changes due to dementia or memory loss.
Memory Care Communities
If it’s determined that your parent or family member’s sudden personality change is the result of dementia, it can feel overwhelming to consider the next steps. How much care do they need? Should you move in with them?
Memory care is a great solution for those who want the best care possible for their parent or family member, but don’t feel confident that they can provide it themselves. Like those offered at Senior Solutions Management Group communities, memory care services are specifically designed to care for individuals with dementia and other memory impairments. The staff and caregivers are professionally trained to manage symptoms associated with memory loss, including sudden personality changes.
Senior Solutions’ Memory Care Communities
We know how alarming and emotional it can be to witness a parent or family member experience abrupt and distressing personality changes. Senior Solutions Management Group’s memory care communities are dedicated to delivering focused and comprehensive care. Each member of our memory care team completes significant training to ensure they are prepared for even the most challenging and unique situations—embracing them positively and warmly to provide the best outcomes.
To learn more about our memory care neighborhood, The Retreat, we encourage you to contact our team today.