It can be difficult at times to interact with a loved one that has dementia. This disease affects the mind and memory, as well as personality. Someone you used to know as happy and bubbly can become quick to anger, paranoid, or not remember details about you.
Coming into a situation like this, it’s important to know that there will be times when you are upset and frustrated, but know that this is not them doing it on purpose or to hurt you (although at times it may feel like it). Know that they would be there for you in the same situation.
Common Behavior Associated with Dementia
Dementia has a few common traits and behaviors that can be exhibited by those who have the disease.
These can include:
- Social withdrawal
- Loss of interest in activities
How to Handle Dementia Behavior Changes
- Don’t: Argue
Your loved one may yell and scream that they don’t want to do something, but don’t let the heat of the moment take over. You don’t want to argue back. Take a moment, cool down, leave the room, and try to identify why they are angry. Are they fearing something? Do they not want to take a shower because of a certain nursing assistant? Are they afraid of falling? Try to shift their focus elsewhere and calm them down.
- Do: Redirect Their Attention
If they bring up something like wanting to immediately leave or go out somewhere, try to redirect their focus. Say something like “Ok, that’s fine, but first we should have a little lunch first, then we can go.”
- Do: Create a Narrative
If your loved one asks something that isn’t possible to do, such as driving a car, try to create a story in which this is not possible due to another factor. “I’d love to go for a drive, but the car is broken and we have to wait for the store to bring the new part.”
- Don’t: Lose Your Cool
Even if you need to go outside for a while, take your time to calm down. You don’t want to end up taking out your anger on your loved one. Keep a level head so you both can get through this tough time.