Negative Mood Changes in Seniors: Common Reasons for the Shift in Attitude

a senior lady comforts her moody husband
There are a range of issues that can cause mood changes in seniors.

We all have good days and bad days, and we’re all entitled to a little crankiness or negative thinking from time to time. If you’re caring for a senior who seems to have fallen into a routine of continual negativity and complaining, however, it is worthwhile to explore whether a health problem might be the culprit. 

Here are several possibilities for recurring negativity and mood changes in seniors, and how you can help.

  1. Urinary tract infections. A UTI’s classic symptoms of burning, pain, and urgency to urinate may include additional side effects for older adults, including angry outbursts, irritability, and confusion, along with other changes in behavior or mood. Speak with the doctor to rule out a urinary tract infection if you notice these types of irregular behaviors.
  2. Pain. A recent research study revealed that participants who have been experiencing chronic pain reported a rise in negative moods, including fatigue, anger, tension, depression, anxiety, and much more. It’s vital to share any of these mood changes with the physician, as these kinds of symptoms actually impact the effectiveness of pain management treatments.
  3. Medication side effects. A wide range of medications – including those intended to help with mood, such as antidepressants – may cause problematic mood swings. Medications for blood pressure, seizures, and inflammation can cause behavioral and personality changes in some people. Again, speak with the physician and go through all of the older adult’s prescriptions to determine if the problem comes from one medication, or possibly the interaction of multiple meds together.
  4. Dementia. Mood and personality changes are common in dementia. It is essential to realize that these changes are a symptom of the physiological changes in the brain, and are not a reflection of the person’s own choices and decisions. There are medicinal and natural treatment choices that can help the person feel calmer and less agitated that you may desire to explore. 

Negativity can arise from boredom or loneliness, too. Whatever the cause, persistent negativity can wear on a caregiver’s own sense of comfort and wellbeing. It’s important to be able to step away from your caregiving role on a regular basis, and to make this time away a top priority. The senior will also benefit from the opportunity to spend time with different friends, family members, or a professional caregiver. These breaks are a healthy component of your caregiver/care receiver relationship – for both of you.

JFS Care’s Jewish family services and home health team can help in a variety of ways to brighten the mood of the seniors we serve. All of our care staff are fully trained, background checked, and experienced in a wide range of home care services for seniors. Contact us to see how we can help someone you love, while allowing you the time you need to rest and rejuvenate.