When Alzheimer’s Steals Their Personality

By Marlo Sollitto, AgingCare.com contributing editor

As Alzheimer’s progresses, it destroys memory, brings on erratic behavior and robs personality. You find you are caring for a father who no longer recognizes you; a mother with whom you no longer share any emotional connection; or a loved one who doesn’t appreciate, or even want your help. How do you keep going and loving someone who is a shell of the person you once knew?

Two experts who work with Alzheimer’s patients and their families spoke with AgingCare.com about this dilemma.

Can’t Take Being an Alzheimer’s Caregiver Anymore?

Cindy Laverty, a caregiver advocate, and a former caregiver herself–feels the most difficult part is letting go of the relationship you once shared with your parent. “The father who once provided strength and comfort is no longer able to do for you,” she says. “Now, he needs your strength and comfort.”

Ms. Laverty recommends that you allow yourself time to feel whatever emotions come your way. Giving yourself permission to grieve will help you go on, to continue caregiving with more purpose and clarity. “Feel the sadness, anger, unfairness and the frustration. Allow yourself time to grieve. Try to fully embrace the fact that you can do nothing to bring your loved one back.”

Read more:
When a Senior Can’t Remember the Story, Let Them Make It Up
A Kids-Eye View of Alzheimer’s
“My Mom Has Dementia and Is Telling Lies About Me”

When Alzheimer’s Steals Your Loved One’s Personality originally appeared on AgingCare.com.  Visit AgingCare.com for more information on caregiving, senior living, and elder care.

Kenneth M. Sakauye, a geriatric psychiatrist at UT Medical Group in Memphis, Tenn., says while Alzheimer’s changes personalities and relationships “that doesn’t mean you stop loving”—though “you may have to dig a little deeper to find that love.” On the toughest days, try to remember how your loved one once was. If there was once an affectionate bond, he says, it hasn’t disappeared. “It’s changing and growing,” he says.

As an example of how relationships evolve, Dr. Sakauye cites a caregiver who spent her entire life seeking her mother’s approval and affection. She felt her mother loved her sister more. Yet after her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she stopped playing favorites – and the daughter stopped caring about being the favorite. She simply enjoyed the time they had left together. It created a special bond that actually brought them closer than ever before.

10 Ways Caring for Parents is Different than Caring for Children

No relationship remains the same forever. “As a parent, you loved your children differently when they were two than when they were 20,” he points out. “It’s the same as your parent ages.”

Even in the most advanced cases of Alzheimer’s, your loved one may have moments of clarity and recognition. They will be fleeting, but embrace, treasure and remember them. Your loved one is still there, and your love has not abandoned you.

Read more:
When a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Doesn’t Recognize You
10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
How To Tell Family That Mom or Dad has Alzheimer’s Disease

When Alzheimer’s Steals Your Loved One’s Personality originally appeared on AgingCare.com.  Visit AgingCare.com for more information on caregiving, senior living, and elder care.


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Magyar Girl
Past Member 3 years ago


gary c.
Gary C.4 years ago


Zee Kallah
Past Member 4 years ago

Yay! I made it.

I got my butterfly points goal for the day and I was behind.

I am grateful.

Zee Kallah
Past Member 4 years ago

Yay! I made it.

I got my butterfly points goal for the day and I was behind.

I am grateful.

Zee Kallah
Past Member 4 years ago

I think I've got an extra personality or so laying around somewhere.

I'm not going to worry about it. lol

Alzheimers doesn't worry me.

But I sure do those puzzles!


Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe4 years ago

My Mom had Alzheimer's for 10 years.

At first, I was in denial because I did not understand this horrible disease. When my step-dad would bring her over, she would just sit there and he would do all the talking - I think he was looking for someone to talk to and to get her out of the house.

Before the disease set in, Mom was high energy and going all the time. They did craft shows almost every weekend and she was always painting or creating something.

Things changed drastically over the 10 years to the point we had to put her in a nursing home.

My sister and I went alternate days to make sure she was fed and got to bed properly every night for 2 years.

One of her nurse's told me that we were like another pair of eyes because we noticed things about her that they did not have time to notice. Like old patches being left on, and when she had a new bedsore, etc...

Mom lost her battle last year when she got her arm dislocated from her shoulder and she just gave up. She was done fighting to stay alive. Why would she want to live like that anymore?

I used to think that my sister was my Mom's favorite, but that did not matter in the end. Mom didn't recognize her any more than she did me.

I still love and miss her very much - some days are harder than others (her birthday, Mother's Day. Christmas).

She was only 76 years old!!!!

Lin Moy
Lin M4 years ago

Thank you. My mom still talks but she does wonder a bit now.

Ingrid D.4 years ago

When will we all wake up and see the reason for this explosion in Alzheimers?? I warned against this explosion in 1995 because it is obvious that pulsed magnetic fields from mobile phone frequencies affect the hippocampus, a very sensitive part of the brain which controls consciousness and short term memory . Just do the research yourself! Soon we all will know someone with this disease. These are dangerous times we live in. It will get worse unless we admit that manmade frequencies play a big role in brain edgeneration

Rita White
Rita White4 years ago

Thanks for the article

Ann LaGoy
Ann LaGoy4 years ago

I find it particularly difficult when the patient was never a pleasant person to begin with. It seems an already challenging personality just intensified for a number of years. As awful as it sounds, it's become a blessing my mother in law mostly sleeps. She can no longer hit, spit, kick at me and her son. She no longer berates him, wanders off in the neighborhood and tells people she is in prison, and could no longer punch her husband or throw boiling water on him if he were alive. She is getting the best possible care here at home, and I am amazed her son hasn't washed his hands of her years ago when she was most aggressive. She had to be watched every moment of the day and night for fear she would hurt us, or herself.
There seems to always be an aggressive phase for this disease, and on top of that she had mental health issues long before. Thankfully that phase is, for the most part, over.
I strongly recommend caregivers get support from other family members (cousins, aunts uncles, siblings) so they do not burn out. No one deserves the stress of being a sole caregiver. There is very little available by way of long term care unless the patient is destitute.