Personality tends to naturally evolve as individuals age. However, abrupt mood changes in the elderly can be a sign of an emerging health condition. Family caregivers who notice behavioral shifts in their aging loved ones are advised to carefully evaluate the situation and seek extra support.
The aging process leads to both physical and mental changes. Severe mood swings, though, are not considered a normal aspect of aging. Family members who notice sudden changes in mood should look for evidence that suggests the events point to a more serious health condition.
Seniors may develop mood swings as a result of illness. Depression and anxiety can cause changes in mood. Behavioral shifts could be early signs of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Physical pain, reactions to medications, and loneliness may also cause behavioral shifts.
Early onset dementia can cause depression in seniors. A progressive brain condition, dementia cannot be cured; consequently, affected individuals may feel depressed after realizing they are gradually losing their cognitive faculties. These seniors may isolate themselves from others or give up activities.
Family members who notice symptoms of depression in a senior with dementia should encourage the loved one to join them in trying new hobbies, such as karaoke, cooking or dancing. Turn everyday events into special ones, such as move night (watching TV), spa day (bathing), or a date (meals).
Physical aggression, like pushing or kicking, from a senior with dementia can be overwhelming. Give the senior enough time and space to calm down. Move out of confined areas and secure small objects that could be used as weapons. Safety may be found in a neighbor’s home or outside.
Family members should remain calm during sudden outbursts. Offer empathetic and reassuring words, such as, “I understand your frustration. I realize how difficult this is. I am here to help.” Seek medical help, respite care, or social support. If in physical danger, do not hesitate to call 911.
Anxiety can emerge in seniors affected by dementia. These elderly individuals are less able to cope with stressful situations and heavily rely on caregivers for security. Worry or agitation can set it when the senior cannot see or hear the caregiver. The senior may wander, looking for the caregiver.
When an anxious elderly individual follows a caregiver, set up a control station filled with snacks, books, and security items, like stuffed animals or a phone. One family member may be unable to handle all caregiving tasks, making it worthwhile to hire extra in-home support from a home care agency.
4. Impulsive Behavior
Impulsivity is an outcome of changes in areas of the brain that control impulses. As a result, the senior may be unaware of other people’s feelings. Awkward social encounters may occur when in public. Caregivers are advised to forewarn family and friends about the senior’s erratic behavior.
Disruptive actions should be met with direct eye contact and the firm verbal command, “Stop.” Distract the senior by asking him to hold an item, get a snack or help with a task. An impulsive senior who lacks affection may find warmth with pet therapy. Medications could reduce safety risks.
Apathy, which is defined as disinterest or lack of enthusiasm, is a common symptom in people with dementia. Once-enjoyable activities are no longer sought out by affected individuals. These pursuits may become too difficult for the senior with dementia to initiate or follow.
When faced with a senior who is apathetic, family caregivers are encouraged to pursue simple activities that are unlikely to lead to frustration, such as listening to music, taking a car ride, or stacking objects. Establish a daily routine for engagement, like playing cards after lunch.
Family members who are confronted by a senior’s frequent mood swings are advised to understand the behavior in order to respond appropriately. Describe the behavior and examine possible causes, such as medication changes, pain, hunger, loneliness, memory problems, or a disorienting environment.
Set up a plan to deal with the changes in behavior. Fulfill unmet needs, like thirst or hunger. If, upon a medical evaluation, medication is the culprit, discontinue the high-risk medicine. Create a safe environment in which clutter is limited and the home is accessible with grab bars, for example.
The most important consideration is that mood swings are a senior’s way of communicating. Angry outbursts could be a sign of frustration, confusion, or pain. If pain is suspected, obtain a medical evaluation from the senior’s healthcare provider. Be aware that medication can worsen behavior.
Seeing a characteristically pleasant elder suddenly become extremely angry without good reason is an emotionally challenging ordeal, especially if the aggressive outbursts are frequent. Or, when sudden and prolonged sadness affects an aging loved one, the situation is often difficult to bear.
When your elderly loved one’s mood suddenly shifts, the senior may be in need of extra supervision at home. Assisting Hands Home Care is prepared to provide around-the-clock monitoring with our 24-hour care options.
If the senior in your life requires overnight care, our qualified caregivers will be awake and alert at night to respond to the care recipient’s needs. Assisting Hands Home Care also provides reliable respite care for short-term care situations. Family caregivers are entitled to periodic relief, too.
Mood swings can lead to wandering. Our home care agency provides compassionate Alzheimer’s and dementia care services. Professional dementia caregivers safely lead wandering seniors back home. We also stimulate the minds of dementia patients and keep them mentally alert with brain games, jigsaw puzzles, and friendly conversation.
Your aging loved one deserves high-quality care, and Assisting Hands Home Care provides the best in-home elderly care to seniors in Buffalo Grove, Deerfield, Lake Zurich, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, Mundelein, Vernon Hills, Highland Park, Libertyville, Round Lake Beach, IL and surrounding areas in Lake County. Start a senior on the path toward well-being by scheduling an in-home consultation with us; call us at (224) 268-9068 today.