Psychological Services

Aging and Dementia: Behavioral and Emotional Signs of Dementia

  • Becoming agitated more often over little inconsequential items, small things become big things; significantly different from past behaviors
  • Social activities are restricted more and accompanied by excuses to avoid going out and talking to people
  • Increased suspiciousness of people resulting in accusations; e.g. taking things
  • Wandering behavior
  • Social disinhibition whereby the person does things atypical of them and become more impulsive and less appropriate

Emotional/Psychiatric Signs of Dementia:

  • Significant personality changes
  • Depression; symptoms are deeper than a reaction to a given situation and not amenable to change
  • Paranoid ideas about people and events
  • Hallucinations; actually seeing something visually or hearing something that is not actually present
  • Mania is observed in the person’s behavior in terms of hyper- sexuality, hyper-spending, pressured or fast speech, and general behavioral extremes

More Emotional and Behavioral Clues:

  • Becoming disoriented, lost in familiar places, confused in direction and location.
  • Difficulty completing daily basics, such as cooking, cleaning the house, office paperwork.
  • Decision making skills are faltering to the point that ordering in a restaurant becomes a difficult endeavor.
  • here are rapid mood changes without precipitating causal factors, rhyme or reason.
  • Conversation is confused, life is confused, difficulty separating out what is real and what is actually an internal thought
  • Decreased awareness of time, the ability to account for time spent and less organization
  • Routine activities are forgotten: the weekly bingo game missed, going to the grocery store is so traumatic that it is put off to the next week
  • Former old personalities such as the “alcoholic or abusive persona suddenly re-appears
  • Appearing ‘‘drifty’’ and less aware of surroundings
  • Difficulty taking the perspective of another person leads to poor social skills
  • Rigid thought process prevents the ability to shift sets to do something else when warranted thus leading to more frustration with life

The emotional symptoms that can accompany any form of dementia are:

  • Easily frustrated and upset.
  • Feeling restless and agitated, everything bothers you.
  • Feeling so distracted during the day that you forgot what you were doing or what your original goals were.
  • Difficulty waiting for your turn or waiting for anything
  • Not feeling satisfied with anything in your life, sometimes you care and sometimes you do not.
  • Feeling more quiet and introverted, you want to be by yourself, having more private conversations, talking to people less and less.
  • Wanting to go out and be with people less and less
  • Anxiety or nervousness, feeling fearful, thinking everyone is out to get you, not feeling safe.
  • Difficulty falling asleep.
  • Feeling sad or depressed, thinking negatively, the future looks grim.
  • Thinking about death or what it would be like to no longer live your life.
  • Preoccupation with the small things, making small things into big things.

Change in personality, emotional problems, psychiatric symptoms can occur with a number of disorders within the aged population; however these may be the primary symptom for the following disorders:

  • Dementia involving strictly the frontal lobe (Frontal Lobe Dementia/Primary Progressive Aphasia, Pick’s Disease, Creutzfelt-Jacob)
  • Dementia involving the parietal and frontal lobe (Lewy body dementia)
  • Dementia specifically involving the temporal and frontal lobe (Cardiovascular Dementia and Traumatic Brain Injury)1

1 Fisher, B., Ed., (2006) Attention Deficit Disorder, Practical Coping Mechanisms Second Edition Informa Health Care, New York, NY.

Contact Info

47818 Van Dyke
Shelby Township, MI 48317
586-323-3620
586-323-3568 fax

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Mon-Thurs: 9:00 am-7:00 pm Friday: 9:00 am-4:00 pm Saturday: 9:00 am-3:00 pm

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