5 Ideas for Coping With Early Dementia Mood Loss

Does your loved one's general mood seem a bit . . . blunted? Decreased emotion is a common early symptom of dementia. He or she may no longer be exuberantly happy about things that once brought joy -- or especially sad at other times. In fact, many families are startled when a loved one with dementia reacts to the diagnosis with little more than a shrug.

How can you react?

1. First, know that these mood changes are the direct result of the disease process (rather than just an emotional reaction to having the disease).

2. Try hard not to take apathy personally. You may bear the brunt of a blunted mood, but the reaction isn't to you any more than to having dementia.

3. Avoid pointing it out and getting on your loved one's case. ("Why aren't you happier? It's such a beautiful day.")

4. Better: Be empathetic. Avoid anger.

5. Continue to seek out activities that once brought pleasure (a visit from grandchildren, a drive in the country, watching sports, listening to music) and engage your loved one even if you don't get the same response you once did.

Learn more about how to tell if someone with dementia is depressed.

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

about 2 years, said...

what about when you try everything to please them and make them happy? What about when you suggest doing things that they like and try and help them do things that they once liked and you don't want to do anything? What about when they sleep until three into in the afternoon don't want to get up because they say why should you get up when you don't have anything to look forward to and you tell them about the things to look forward to? What do you do then?

over 3 years, said...

It is so easy at first to think that they just don't care or don't want to be involved. I am starting to "get it" ! My husband is sick and he is not the person I knew five years ago. I will work harder at being patient.

about 6 years, said...

It is so hard to not point things out. This reminds me to step back and not do that.