Passive Behavior and Early Dementia

5 Behavior Changes of Early Dementia

Have you noticed passive, "onlooker" behavior creeping into your loved one? A gradual passivity is a hallmark of early dementia. How it manifests depends on the person, and it can be a slow process.

Some common examples:

1. A planner may begin to defer more to others.

You may notice: The person messes up or postpones making vacation plans, for example.

2. A social leader may act more reclusive.

You may notice: Someone who loved to go out or initiate activities begins making excuses about why he or she would rather not do anything.

3. A "do-er" may seem less certain about what to do next.

You may notice: More hesitancy or the person taking more time to get plans off the ground.

4. The early bird starts to be late.

You may notice: The person who got taxes done early never gets around to doing them, or the person who signed up for programs and activities on the first day seems to put it off, unable to muster the initiative.

5. The equal partner becomes clingy.

You may notice: The person who once stood his or her own ground at parties or bridge games suddenly sticks closer to your side.

Losing drive and initiative can be a slow process, so these changes might not seem obvious. People often don't think to link them to the memory and thinking changes also taking place because of dementia; they may misinterpret passivity as rudeness or another change in personality. If you haven't noticed this change yet, just know to keep an eye out for it.


Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio