7 First Signs of Personality Changes in Dementia

Dementia, a term often associated with memory loss, encompasses a broader spectrum of cognitive challenges. One significant aspect is the alteration in personality, which can manifest in various ways. This blog post aims to shed light on the initial signs of dementia-related personality changes, helping individuals and their loved ones navigate this challenging terrain.

Here Are the 7 First Signs of Personality Changes in Those With Dementia 

1. Reduced Sensitivity to Others’ Feelings

mean angry person

One of the early signs of dementia-related personality changes is a reduced sensitivity to others’ feelings. Imagine a scenario where a close friend shares a personal struggle, and instead of offering empathy, the individual with dementia responds with indifference. This shift can be subtle, with the person becoming less attuned to emotional nuances in their social interactions.

Consider Sally, who used to be a compassionate listener. As dementia sets in, she becomes less responsive to her friend’s joys and sorrows. Sally’s diminished sensitivity is evident when she fails to express concern or happiness appropriately, signaling a departure from her previous emotional awareness.

2. Making People Seem Cold and Unfeeling

Dementia may create an impression that individuals are growing cold and unfeeling. John, once known for his warmth and kindness, now exhibits a stark change.

Picture John forgetting to congratulate a colleague on a well-deserved promotion or failing to console a friend during a challenging time. These lapses in emotional responsiveness can leave loved ones puzzled and concerned.

John’s transformation from a caring friend to someone seemingly detached showcases how dementia can alter the perception of warmth and empathy. Recognizing this change is crucial in understanding the early signs of personality shifts associated with the condition.

3. Lack of Social Awareness

A lack of social awareness is another key aspect of dementia-related personality changes.

Mary, previously known for her social grace, begins to exhibit behaviors that suggest obliviousness to social cues. Picture Mary attending a family gathering and unintentionally dominating conversations, unaware of the discomfort she is causing.

This lack of social awareness in dementia can strain relationships as individuals like Mary inadvertently disrupt the natural flow of social interactions. Identifying such instances early on can prompt intervention strategies and foster better understanding within social circles.

4. Making Inappropriate Jokes

The onset of dementia may lead to the making of inappropriate jokes.

Consider Mike, who was always known for his lighthearted humor. However, as dementia takes hold, his jokes become increasingly misplaced, crossing boundaries that were once clear to him.

The shift in Mike’s sense of humor highlights the impact of dementia on social appropriateness. Loved ones may find themselves grappling with discomfort as they witness a once-respectful individual unknowingly veering into inappropriate territory, signaling a departure from their established personality.

5. Showing a Lack of Tact

Dementia-related personality changes often involve a lack of tact in interpersonal interactions.

Susan, previously adept at navigating sensitive topics with finesse, now finds herself making blunt remarks without realizing the impact.

Picture Susan inadvertently commenting on someone’s appearance in a way that is hurtful, a stark contrast to her previous tactful approach.

Recognizing these instances of diminished tact is essential in understanding the evolving nature of an individual’s personality. Addressing these changes early on can facilitate open conversations about dementia and its impact on social interactions.

6. Becoming Very Withdrawn and Apathetic

While some individuals with dementia may exhibit more overt changes, others may become very withdrawn and apathetic.

James, once an active participant in family events, now prefers solitude. His enthusiasm for hobbies and social engagements diminishes, leaving loved ones concerned about his sudden withdrawal from activities he once enjoyed.

James’s case exemplifies the spectrum of personality changes associated with dementia. Recognizing signs of withdrawal and apathy is crucial in understanding the diversity of responses to the condition and tailoring support accordingly.

7. Language Problems – Difficulty Finding the Right Words or Understanding Them


Language problems often accompany dementia-related personality changes.

Sarah, previously articulate and eloquent, now struggles to find the right words or comprehend complex sentences. This linguistic shift can create frustration for both the individual and their loved ones.

Visualize Sarah attempting to express herself but getting stuck on simple phrases. The frustration is palpable as she grapples with the loss of linguistic abilities, a hallmark of dementia-related changes. Recognizing these language difficulties early on allows for proactive measures to support communication.

What should I do when I notice the first signs of dementia in a senior family member?

When you observe initial signs of dementia in a senior family member, your first step is to consult a primary care doctor. This is often a family physician or general practitioner. They can assess the situation, conduct basic cognitive tests, and rule out other potential causes for the symptoms, such as medication side effects or vitamin deficiencies.

If the primary care doctor suspects dementia, the next step is typically a referral to a specialist called a neurologist. Neurologists specialize in disorders of the nervous system, including conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common cause of dementia. The neurologist will conduct a more in-depth evaluation, which may include brain imaging scans like MRI or CT to provide a clearer picture of what might be happening in the brain.

After a diagnosis, it’s advisable to consult with a geriatrician, a doctor who specializes in the care of older adults. They can offer a comprehensive approach to managing the various aspects of a senior’s health, taking into account their overall well-being and quality of life. Geriatricians may also collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as psychologists or social workers, to provide holistic care.

Simultaneously, it’s crucial to involve family members and consider legal and financial planning. Establishing power of attorney and discussing long-term care options can help navigate the challenges associated with dementia. Engaging in support groups or seeking guidance from organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association can provide valuable resources and assistance throughout the journey.

What are signs that seem like Dementia, but are not?

Sometimes, forgetfulness is mistaken for dementia, but it doesn’t always indicate a serious condition. Normal aging can bring about occasional memory lapses, like forgetting names or keys. For instance, misplacing items occasionally or struggling to recall a word is common and often unrelated to dementia.

Stress and anxiety can mimic dementia symptoms temporarily. When overwhelmed, people may experience confusion or difficulty concentrating. An example is feeling disoriented during a high-pressure situation, like public speaking, which doesn’t necessarily suggest dementia but rather a reaction to stress.

Certain medications can cause cognitive side effects, resembling dementia. For instance, some allergy medications or sleep aids might lead to temporary confusion. It’s essential to consider recent medication changes when observing cognitive changes in individuals, as these effects can be reversible.

Depression shares symptoms with dementia, such as memory problems and lethargy. A person experiencing depression might appear forgetful, but addressing the underlying emotional state can often improve cognitive function. An example is someone regaining mental clarity as their mood lifts with appropriate treatment.

Medical conditions like thyroid problems or vitamin deficiencies may mirror dementia symptoms. Hypothyroidism, for instance, can cause forgetfulness and confusion. Detecting and addressing these underlying health issues can help alleviate cognitive concerns without the presence of dementia.


Understanding the first signs of dementia-related personality changes is crucial for early intervention and compassionate caregiving. Reduced sensitivity, apparent coldness, social unawareness, inappropriate humor, lack of tact, withdrawal, and language difficulties collectively paint a picture of the multifaceted nature of these changes. By recognizing these signs, individuals and their loved ones can navigate the complexities of dementia with empathy and informed support.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *