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Are you experiencing negative personality changes with age?

Are you experiencing negative personality changes with age?

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negative personality changes with age

When Jemma was a child, her grandmother, Janice, was the epitome of grace and kindness. She always had a smile on her face, a kind word for everyone, and an endless supply of cookies. But as Janice grew older, Jemma noticed a change in her personality. She became more forgetful, more withdrawn, and prone to angry outbursts. It was as if the sweet grandmother she knew was slowly slipping away.  

There are many cases similar to Jemma’s grandma. Research has shown that as we move through different stages of life, our personalities can shift in both positive and negative directions. For some, this means becoming more open-minded, wise, and compassionate. But for others, the changes can be less desirable – increased neuroticism, irritability, and a decreased sense of well-being. 

This blog will explore the possible reasons behind negative personality changes with age, including the signs, consequences, and strategies for mitigating their impact.  

Does personality change with age? 

Several studies indicate that some aspects of personality tend to change as we move through different stages of life. But these changes are mostly subtle and nothing drastic and happen gradually. Typically, older adults score higher on measures of agreeableness, meaning they become more empathetic, cooperative, and trusting. 

However, it’s worth noting that not all aspects of personality change in the same way and that individual differences play a significant role in determining how personality changes over time. Some people may become more open-minded and adventurous as they age, while others may become more set in their ways. Additionally, life experiences and environmental factors can shape personality development in complex ways. 

Negative changes in personality with age 

It is possible to experience negative changes in personality as we age. While some aspects of personality tend to improve with age, other aspects can decline.  For example, older adults may become more prone to negative emotions like anxiety, depression, and anger and may become less interested in socializing with others. They may also become less open to new experiences and less willing to compromise, leading to strained relationships. However, it’s important to note that not everyone will experience these negative changes in personality as they age. 

Signs of negative personality changes with age 

Personality changes with age can manifest themselves in a variety of ways. While these changes can occur at any age, some unique changes tend to occur as we age. Few signs that someone’s personality may be changing for the worse as they age include: 

  • Increased irritability and moodiness 
  • Decreased social engagement 
  • Reduced emotional stability 
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies 
  • Difficulty adjusting to change 
  • Increased risk-taking behavior 

What causes negative personality changes with age? 

It’s unclear what causes these negative personality changes. Some researchers believe it results from the cumulative effects of stress and adverse life events, while others suggest that it’s simply a natural part of aging. Some possible factors that may contribute to negative personality changes with age include: 

1. Biological changes 

As we age, changes in the brain and body can impact our emotions and behavior. For example, changes in hormone levels and brain chemistry can contribute to increased anxiety and irritability. 

2. Life transitions 

Major life transitions such as retirement, the loss of a loved one, or a decline in physical health can be stressful and disruptive, leading to negative changes in personality. 

3. Social isolation 

Older adults who are socially isolated or who lack social support may be more prone to negative emotions such as anxiety and depression, which can impact their personality. 

4. Chronic stress 

Chronic stress, such as that associated with caregiving or financial strain, can impact our emotions and behavior over time, leading to adverse changes in personality. 

5. Mental health conditions 

Mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety are more common among older adults and can contribute to negative changes in personality. 

Consequences of negative changes in personality with age 

Negative changes in personality with age can lead to a range of problems that can affect a person’s life and the people associated. Some of these problems include: 

1. Decreased social activity 

Older adults who experience negative changes in personality may become less interested in socializing, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and social isolation. 

2. Decreased emotional well-being 

Adverse changes in personality can cause older adults to experience more negative emotions, such as anxiety, depression, and irritability, which can reduce overall emotional well-being. 

3. Strained relationships 

Older adults who become more disagreeable or less agreeable may find it harder to maintain positive relationships with others, leading to further isolation, loneliness, and despair. 

4. Increased health problems 

Negative changes in personality can lead to increased stress, which can contribute to a range of health problems, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and immune system dysfunction. 

5. Reduced cognitive function 

Negative personality changes can affect cognitive function, including memory and attention, which can impact overall quality of life. 

Strategies for mitigating the impact of negative personality changes 

If you or someone you know is experiencing negative changes in personality with age, there are several strategies that may be helpful in coping with these shifts. Here are some tips that could be helpful: 

1. Prioritize self-care 

Taking care of oneself, including getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in enjoyable activities, can help improve emotional well-being and reduce negative changes in personality. 

2. Engage in physical activity 

Exercise has been shown to have positive effects on emotional well-being, so engaging in physical activity can be helpful in coping with negative changes in personality. Walking, swimming, or other low-impact exercises can be beneficial. 

3. Practice stress reduction techniques 

Chronic stress can contribute to unfavorable changes in personality, so learning and practicing stress reduction techniques can be helpful. Examples include mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga. 

4. Stay socially engaged 

Maintaining social connections with friends, family, or other supportive individuals can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. Joining social groups or clubs, volunteering, or pursuing hobbies can also help maintain social connections. 

5. Seek professional help 

A qualified mental health professional can help assess the situation and provide guidance on the best course of action. They can also provide support and counseling to help individuals cope with negative changes in personality. 

What are some positive personality changes with age? 

While negative changes in personality can occur with age, there are also some positive changes that happen as well. Here are some examples of positive personality changes that may come with age: 

1. Increased emotional stability 

While some older adults may experience decreased emotional stability with age, others may become more emotionally stable. This can lead to a greater sense of calm and resilience in the face of life’s challenges. 

2. Increased wisdom 

Older adults may have more life experience, which can lead to increased wisdom and perspective. This can help them make better decisions and navigate life more effectively. 

3. Increased empathy 

Older adults may become more empathetic and understanding of others’ perspectives, which can lead to improved relationships and greater social connectedness. 

4. Increased openness to experiences 

While some older adults may become less open to new experiences, others may become more open and curious. This can lead to continued personal growth and development. 

5. Increased gratitude 

With age comes an increased awareness of mortality and a greater appreciation for life’s blessings. This can lead to increased feelings of gratitude and appreciation for the people and experiences in one’s life. 

6. Increased self-acceptance 

Older adults may become more accepting of themselves and their limitations, which can lead to improved emotional well-being and greater overall satisfaction with life. 

Personality quizzes and podcasts for seniors

Here are some recommendations for personality quizzes and podcasts that seniors might enjoy:

Personality quizzes for seniors

  1. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): The MBTI is a famous personality assessment that categorizes individuals into different personality types. Many websites offer free versions of the test.
  2. Enneagram: The Enneagram is another personality system that can provide insights into an individual’s motivations, fears, and behaviors. There are various free Enneagram tests available online.
  3. VIA Character Strengths: The VIA Institute on Character offers a free online assessment that identifies an individual’s top character strengths, helping seniors gain self-awareness and personal growth.

Podcasts for seniors

  1. “The Moth”: The Moth is a storytelling podcast where people share their personal stories, often touching or humorous. It’s a beautiful way to hear real-life experiences and connect with others emotionally.
  2. “Stuff You Should Know”: This podcast explores various interesting topics, from science and history to pop culture and everyday life. It’s informative, engaging, and can spark curiosity.
  3. “Senior Matters Radio”: Senior Matters Radio focuses on topics relevant to seniors, including health, finances, legal issues, and lifestyle. It provides valuable information and advice for older adults.
  4. “TED Radio Hour”: This podcast features TED Talks on various subjects, offering insights and perspectives from experts in different fields.

Final thoughts 

As Jemma looks back on the memories of her grandmother, she feels grateful for the time they had together. And while she may miss the sweet, cookie-baking grandmother of her childhood, Jemma also recognizes that the changes she went through were a natural part of the aging process.  

By understanding the complexities of personality changes in later life, we can better support ourselves and our loved ones as we navigate the challenges of growing older. We hope this blog helps you recognize the positive and negative changes that come with aging and approach the process with compassion and grace. 

Related articles: 


  • Does a person’s IQ change with age? 

While some studies say IQ scores tend to increase during childhood and adolescence, peak in early adulthood, and then gradually decline in later life, some studies also suggest that a person’s IQ remains constant throughout their lifespan. 

  • At what age is your IQ the highest? 

IQ scores tend to increase during childhood and adolescence, peak in early adulthood, and then gradually decline in later life. The peak age for IQ is generally thought to be around 20-25 years old, although this can vary depending on individual differences and other factors. 

  • What is the average IQ of a 65-year-old? 

According to some studies, the average IQ score for adults in their 60s is around 114. 

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