Caring for an elderly relative can be challenging. When they have mood or behavioral changes, it can be especially tricky. They may become irritated and be hard to satisfy no matter what you do for them. You might start to feel hopeless because of the constant criticism, demands, and complaints. They may even go so far as to call you names, yell or exhibit other aggressive behavior.
You might take this behavior personally especially if you do not understand why it is happening. You may wonder “why is dad upset when I am trying to help him by preparing breakfast?” The first step in getting a handle on your loved one’s mood changes is to determine the cause. To find the answers, you’ll need to think about your loved one’s mood changes and then work with their doctor to determine the cause.
Experts from Illumina Medical Centers share some of the most common causes of mood changes in older adults.
It is common for people with early dementia to experience mood changes, such as anxiety or depression. These symptoms are common because the person may not be aware of why they are experiencing problems with things that they used to be able to do. They may become more emotional and be prone to mood swings.
Depression is common in seniors. However, it is not a typical sign of aging and should not be dismissed as such. Depression is a severe mood disorder that requires intervention. The good news is that it can be treated with medications and/or psychotherapy. Older adults with depression may experience sadness or irritability, trouble sleeping, memory or concentration problems, hopelessness, a lack of motivation and changes in eating.
Anxiety is another mental illness that can cause mood changes in an older person. Like depression, anxiety is common in seniors, but it is often overlooked. The symptoms of anxiety include constant worry, irritability, sleep problems, and physical symptoms.
Other Physical Illnesses
Mood changes are a symptom of many physical illnesses. For example, thyroid disease can cause changes in mood. It can cause depression or anxiety. Hypothyroidism is prevalent among people over the age of 60.
The more severe the thyroid problem, the more severe the changes in mood. Some of the mood symptoms of thyroid disease include restlessness, unusual nervousness, irritability, and anxiety.
Other physical illnesses that are common in order adults and that can cause disturbances in mood include hormone issues, cardiovascular problems, urinary tract infections, and central nervous system conditions.
As people age, they tend to be on more medications. Although medications can improve a senior’s quality of life and reverse serious illness, they also cause a variety of side effects — including mood and psychiatric changes. For instance, statins, which many seniors take to lower cholesterol, can also cause personality, mood and behavior changes. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your loved one’s doctor about any mood changes they are experiencing. The doctor can determine if the mood changes could be related to the medications. They might be able to prescribe another medicine for your loved one. The key is talking to the doctor about the symptoms.
The First Step: Visiting Your Doctor
The first step in getting help for a loved one who is experiencing mood changes is to schedule an appointment with their doctor. Before you go, write down any of the mood symptoms and events that trigger them. Then, discuss your concerns with your loved one’s doctor. Their doctor can determine if the mood changes are due to a medical or physical condition. Regardless of the reason, there are a variety of very effective treatments for mood symptoms, including psychotherapy and behavioral skills training. Your loved one’s doctor can suggest the right treatment for them.
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