The Elderly: Behavioral Changes Every Caregiver Needs to Know

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“I’m going insane!” This sentence is mostly screamed by the family member or the person who cares for the seniors. Is your elderly adult suddenly acting differently? Do your cool parents now suffer from anxiety or show irritable behavior?

Caregivers often need to handle this unusual, and embarrassing behavior by the ill-mannered seniors. One bitter truth of life is that people keep changing, no matter how old they get.

Aging is the phase of life where rapid physical and emotional changes occur, which can lead to different behavioral and personality changes in the aging parents that can confuse or worry a senior’s loved ones.

During these significant changes in age around 20% of older adults in the U.S have gone through depression, a constant sadness that can involve appetite, sleep, energy level, and other daily activities.

In this article, you will gain a thorough understanding of the behavioral changes experienced by the elderly. This will surely help you and your senior loved ones to deal with upcoming issues.


What is the common reason for behavioral change in the elderly?


Bad news, grief, loneliness, and disappointment can cause a normally happy person to become helpless. Sometimes a person’s mood can be changed for weeks or months after hearing hurtful news. Although, mood alterations aren’t the same as personality changes or behavioral changes.

Some elderly experienced strange actions for steady, which may appear due to an injury or illness. Seniors may feel a change in behavior or appearance after experiencing a traumatic situation or witness an unpleasant event.

There are many other common reasons for the senior’s behavioral changes and some of them are listed below:


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A side effect of medication


Averagely, the elderly get 14 to 18 prescriptions in a year anywhere. Specific medication, medicines including ones for asthma and some antidepressant, may make use impulsive, angry, or restless.

Other medicine can be the reason for behavioral changes if they interact with prescription medications.

In this case, you need to check with your loved one’s doctors to see if the medication needs to be adjusted or changed and they may tell you the possible non-medical alternatives.


Early signs of dementia


With the words dementia, many people have a misunderstand they think it is Alzheimer’s, which is progressive and not curable. Although, there are many kinds of dementia that can cause similar behavioral or personality changes, including some that are treatable, manageable, or even reversible.

In that case, your aging loved one needs a nursing evaluation for dementia to either confirm. Caring for the elderly can be tough for families who don’t have trained carers or expertise in-home care.

You need to choose ideal caregivers for the seniors who provide assistance and help to manage the life of people suffering from dementia. You need to consider quality service, as well as dementia care.


Due to the vision issue


Vision-related issues are very common in older adults and if they remain untreated they may affect behavior due to changes in visual perception.

If the eye condition is more severe it may cause visual hallucinations that make seniors react or behave strangely. But don’t rush to any conclusion, first you need to find out if it’s dementia or senility.

In that case, your aged one needs vision checked to find out if there are eye-related issues that can be treated or managed. If seniors are already vision patients then to prevent these kinds of conditions do regular checkups.


Due to hearing issues


Hearing issues is also one of the common issues in older adults and it can cause them to behave differently. Seniors may hide their hearing issues out of embarrassment, this may lead to behavioral changes.

Hearing problems outcomes are socially withdrawn or defensive when asked about their hearing.

In this condition, set an appointment with an audiologist or other hearing specialist so through the checkup you can determine. If your seniors have any hearing issues don’t worry, fortunately, most hearing issues can be treated well with customized hearing aids.


Due to depression and other mental issues


Depression is also a type of mental illness that can lead to behavioral changes in older adults. Stress depression and anxiety may also increase if your senior has lost a close friend or spouse or has become depressed about one’s health condition and other age-related changes impacting the quality of life.

In this case, there are many medicines and therapies which are helpful to your aging loved one to manage their mental health condition. Active support from trained carers or family members and friends can be helpful as well.

You can find responsible in-home care agencies for seniors. With the quality care and medical checkups of the caregivers at in-home care companies, your seniors can acquire a healthier and happier life. They would provide a suitable program that encourages seniors to participate in social activities, eat nutritious fruits and foods, daily exercise, and more.


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Unsolved concerns or issues


Everyone has their nature, some are naturally introverted and extroverted. You can’t expect that your aging parent would naturally open up with their feelings, fear, worries, and concerns.

By the time, keeping things in their heart or hiding concerns inside could contribute to a change in behavior. For instance, your seniors suddenly become accusing and guard if they believe increasing care needs may push them out of the family home, they are acting strange because of financial stress.

In this case, if you suspect a senior is excessively stressed or worried about something take time to talk with him/her patiently. Do this without any judgment and try to resolve the condition to present a mutually acceptable resolution.

Memory Lapse


As people age, they usually, forget little things like where they put their glasses or the name of their favorite actor or film. But around 10% of people over the age of 65 and 50% of individuals over the age of 85 are liable to develop dementia.

Memory loss impacts the daily activity of the senior this may impact that’s why it should be evaluated in time.

The symptoms of dementia may include poor recognition power, memory loss, difficulty a concentrating on particular things, and weak visual perception in some cases. In this care, you need to take seniors for an evaluation immediately cause this may impact the senior’s daily activities.


What changes does seniors’ behavior look like?


Behavioral change can probably indicate challenges in a senior’s health such as depression, anxiety, UTI, or neurocognitive disorder.

The behavior that seniors show is better classified as scary or bad to those who don’t know them or what they are going through, but the main reason for the issues confirms that these behavioral changes are common in many elderly lives.

You might be unknown about what behavioral change looks like in seniors. We’ve listed some behavior changes as well as coping ideas provided by the expert.

Let’s get to know some of the examples of behavioral change in the elderly;


Impulsive behavior


Behavioral or personality changes are often signs of brain disorders. The brain normally controls and manages behavior can be compromised such that impulsive behaviors cannot be controlled.

Impulsive(unusual behaviors) may include making inappropriate, rude gestures or comments unusually touching oneself or others, inquiring about or commenting on private, personal matters in other people’s lives.

Polite individuals with great self-control in the early phase of life but when they age they are liable to have some changes in their behavior. This could happen because as people age they significantly change physically, mentally. Your aging requires a treat and evaluation in time by a physician.


Aggressive or abuse


When a senior with mental illness or dementia shows aggressive actions, it can be even risky for family members. Most of the time when otherwise gentle loved ones begin acting aggressively there is a prompt that begins the behavior.

Sometimes, seniors will lash out at the individual who is making a huge effort to ensure their happiness and wellbeing. The rooted frustration and anger or some unsolved issues may become so depressive to the seniors that leads to aggressive behavior towards others.

If they are being aggressive, the safety of both parties is the main thing to consider when a senior starts showing aggressive behavior. In this case, it is a good idea to contact a healthcare provider or doctor right away.


Mental health


An elderly loved one who has a pre-existing health condition may show their behavior change in a form of more serious signs related to their mental illness. OCD behavior is also one of the illnesses that are mostly seen in seniors. It can disarray the daily lives of the elderly and their caregivers.

Cheapskate, refusing to bathe, and lethargy that t increase over time may be associated with depression. Similarly, hallucinations and paranoia might be related to a mood disorder, personality disorder like borderline, or symptoms of a form of a neurocognitive disorder.

In these situations, remember that senior illness is not there nor the caregiver’s fault. And it can be helped by talking to their doctor about treatment plans.


Refuse to shower or bath


Seniors who are experiencing depression, grief, or have mental disorders are liable to changes in hygienic behavior. Reduced senses of smell and sight may also be the reason for behavioral change.

There could be any reason why the elderly have stopped bathing such as depression. If it is depression then contact their doctor about an appropriate solution.

If aged people are feeling embarrassed to ask for help in the bath, have a conversation with them about professional assistance. Remember to be gentle with them they may be struggling with remembering the time and day when they last bathed.


Compulsive behavior


Some seniors may show compulsive behaviors similar to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or other similar disorders. This includes checking locks multiple times, obsessive organization or cleaning practices, often visiting the bathroom, unusual collection, hoarding, or dramatic changes in eating habits are all possible changes that can occur.

Frequently, compulsive behaviors are not done on purpose and are driven by forgetfulness or anxiety. In this condition, to help them you can be supportive and determine if there is something serious.

Although offering the seniors different interesting activities or possible reasons for their anxiety may be able to relieve the compulsive behavior wholly.


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How to handle behavioral changes in Seniors?


Dealing with behavioral changes in seniors can be a challenging task, and it needs enough consideration and careful thoughts. The crucial thing to remember is that individual behavior is very rarely personal and dramatic changes from happiness to noticeable anger in a patient are unlikely to be your mistake.


Below listed are some tips you can follow to deal with personality changes in a senior:

  • If the seniors are showing signs of apathy, encourage them to do something interesting or enjoy activities. Encourage them to do something that they are interested in.
  • Seniors with anxiety or who demonstrate compulsive anxiety-related behaviors benefit from having enough environment. Make sure to keep their surroundings peaceful and well-organized.
  • An instant decrease in insight can be tough to work with, but it can be maintained frequently by communicating your feelings about the senior’s actions. Express greetings when they act and speak properly and explain your feelings when they behave unusually.
  • If your seniors show aggressive behavior, the key is to make sure that both you and the senior are safe. If seniors are in danger call for help.
  • Sudden behavior change can be symptoms of pain, infection, or a reaction to a medication. It is not always dementia so before concluding, evaluated by the doctor.
  • Medicines are not always a solution to this problem. One study has shown that inappropriate medicine and therapy can also cause negative reactions and make things worse. Be aware.
  • Try to find out the root of the problem. Was there a trigger or something that happened right before head?
  • They behave annoyingly and frustratingly but also you need a softer response. Try to be calm and patients. This means you need to take breaks.
  • Talk to the caregiver or doctor of the senior patient. Consider support that may be helpful for the elderly in their behavioral changes.
  • Observe your seniors closely. Timely check them or they are in pain, thirst, hunger, full bladder, constipation, skin irritation, infections, and fatigue. Maintain a room temperature.


Final Word


Now you get to know details about the behavioral changes in the elderly; the reason behind the behavioral changes, how to deal with them, and what it looks like for senior behavioral changes. This will surely help you to understand seniors in this condition and insight into how to react if this condition occurs.

To learn more about the behavioral changes in seniors contact us. Or if you want help from the trained caregivers for your seniors join us.


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