4 Things to remember before Arguing with someone who has Alzheimer’s Dementia
Tension mounts when you are a caregiver or loved one attempting to win an argument with someone who has mid to late stage Alzheimer’s or Dementia. A person with Alzheimer’s or Dementia does not think the way they use to. Their brain is different. They may say or do things that they would never have done at a previous time.
It is common for them to make accusations of theft after they misplace an item. They might forget where they put their slippers the evening before and awake to believe that you stole them during the night. If they accuse you as the thief, it’s not only disturbing but can make you feel defensive. Demanding your loved one “see” the truth can easily escalate to a heated disagreement.
A disagreement can become a full-fledged, loud argument. Then you are both left with hurt feelings and a mountain of stress. You’ve been victim to a false accusation while the person with Alzheimer’s or Dementia feels personally attacked and rejected.
The normal give and take of regular conversation cannot occur with a mid to late stage Alzheimer’s or Dementia patient. Their brain no longer thinks the way it use to. Because their ability to learn is seriously impaired, the caregiver must find other ways to reach out, communicate and talk to the patient. Arguing is a waste of time which intensifies your frustration and compounds the patient’s aggressive behavior.
Instead, ask yourself these questions before continuing any argument:
- Is this argument important?
- Will I ever win this argument?
- Will both of us grow more angry and stressed and aggravated?
- Will they remember this argument 3 minutes from now?
These questions help you realize the irrelevance of arguing. Instead, you might try validating their complaint and suggesting a resolution. “Oh, you lost your favorite slippers? Why don’t we see if we can find them.”
Or, therapeutic lying. “Oh, I’m sorry, I put your slippers in the laundry. They should be ready to wear again very soon.” or “Oh my, someone stole your slippers? Well, we’ll buy another pair as soon as we go shopping.”
The object is to remove the immediate stress. Within minutes, the Alzheimer’s or Dementia patient will forget the original complaint whether it be something lost, or a plea to go home. Don’t insist on being right, even if you are. An argument with a Dementia or Alzheimer’s patient is pointless. Nothing is ever settled that way and it only leads to more stress. Strive for a peaceful, stress free environment at all times. You need it. Your patient needs it.
Many items are available to to help your loved one remain calm, or find joy in activities that they like. These things are important for them: A nice warm blanket while they cozy, Some sweet socks with grippers to prevent slipping, a clock they can read (since they may no longer be able to read the hands on a clock), hand toys for their fidgeting fingers, and that sweet baby doll that they love to carry around.
Many who have night terrors or sundowners are helped by subliminal tapes for relaxation. It calms them and helps them to sleep.
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