Personality and Alzheimer's
The Alzheimer’s disease is an incredibly common thing to see nowadays. It is multidisciplinary problem and psychology is one of the disciplines involved in a research of it. As psychologists, we are interested in a problem of a personality change during the dementia in particular. Here will be described the results of relevant studies on the named topic, symptoms of the disease, and given certain recommendations useful for caregivers, proxies and anyone else who is in continuous contact with person affected by Alzheimer’s type dementia.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, personality, Five Factor Model.
Personality and Alzheimer's Introduction
Alzheimer’s disease or Senile Dementia – Alzheimer’s Type is now considered to be a fourth most prevalent cause of death after heart diseases, cancer and strokes. (Powell & Courtice, 1983, p. 1) In this paper we will concentrate on a psychological aspect of the disease as it is very important to have a comprehensive understanding of a problem. In particular, we will descry the personality changes in Alzheimer’s disease patient and recommendations for people, who are in immediate contact with the problem.The Alzheimer’s disease: definition and symptomsAlzheimer’s disease is named after Alois Alzheimer, a German physician, who first described the case of this disease on the beginning of twentieth century. It is important to remember that Alzheimer’s does not respect intelligence, religion, status, education or lifestyle. (Driskol, 1994, p. 12) This may happen absolutely to everyone. Generally, the disease is characterized by a progressing loss of intellectual and social communication abilities. Typical onset sequence in Alzheimer’s disease is personality, mood, and memory change, cases of challenging behavior followed by executive dysfunctions, agnosia, apraxia, and aphasia. Symptoms may vary from patient to patient and even from day to day in the same patient. The most common symptoms and manifestations are:
1) Memory problems: problems recognizing relatives and friends, loss of specific memories, repetitive questions;
2) Emotional problems: anxiety, mood fluctuations, irritability, depression, paranoia, apathy;
3) Behavioral problems: wandering, difficulty of spatial orientation, inappropriate sexual activity, taking things, rummaging behavior, nibbling, hoarding; (Powell & Courtice, 1983, p. 12)
4) Intellectual problems: diminished concentration, changes in judgment, impaired computation abilities, difficulty separating facts from fiction;
5) Personality changes. (Coste, 2003, p. 109)
Now let’s take a closer look at personality changes and behavior alterations which occur in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s and PersonalityExiting studies on the problem suggest that personality changes occur in the early stage of the disease. Our comparison of personality traits in diseased and healthy state will be based on Five Factor Model of Personality. This approach postulates that there are five independent dimensions which account for the whole summation of all traits. These dimensions are relatively gender invariant; tend to stay stable across lifespan, especially starting from middle age and may be generalized across several separate independent cultures. The model includes five bipolar trait dimensions: Neuroticism – Emotional Stability, Extraversion-Introversion, Openness – Closeness (to a new experience), Agreeableness – Antagonism, Conscientiousness – Negligence. Together these five dimensions code the sum of thirty lower-order traits, six …