Alzheimer’s Affects More Than Memory

Today’s guest blog comes to us from our friends at the Mayo Clinic. They just released a story titled: “How Alzheimer’s disease affects personality.” After you’ve had a chance to read it and watch the short video, we encourage you to send us a brief message and let us know what you think. Working together with our partners to bring you the health stories that touch the people of our state is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

Forgetfulness and memory loss are trademark symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Personality changes are also somewhat common. Dr. Ronald Petersen, a Mayo Clinic neurologist, says personality characteristics may become amplified, or they may change significantly. (You can watch the video below by clicking here or on the picture.)

alzheimer's

Watching a loved one’s personality change because of Alzheimer’s disease is not easy.

Dr. Petersen says, “Many times, when people develop Alzheimer’s disease, their personality traits sort of become exaggerated. So if they’re a genuinely nice person and have been quite affable throughout most of their life, that continues into the disease process.”

But, sometimes, the disease can completely change someone’s personality.

“Occasionally, it happens that people do a 180. That is, the nice, little old grandmother throughout her whole life develops the disease and then starts talking like a sailor later on in life using words that she had never used throughout her life.”

The question is why? It may be related to the part of the brain that’s affected.

“If the disease process tends to affect, say, the frontal lobes of the brain, the frontal lobes are involved in our behaviors, our personalities, our right and wrong, inhibition, disinhibition. If that part of the brain becomes affected, then all of those features, all of those behaviors, start to change.”

Dr. Petersen and his team strive to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease.

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