It may come seemingly out of thin air: you put your loved one’s favorite tuna sandwich in front of her – light on the mayo, no onions – something which usually brings her enjoyment. But today, she forces the plate away and refuses to take a bite, insisting that you’ve poisoned the sandwich.
Or, you’ve presented your loved one with a meaningful activity that links her to a significant time in her past career, organizing paperwork. Out of the blue, she accuses you of meddling with the documents in order to steal funds from her banking account.
How can you most successfully diffuse situations such as these, which are resulting from the delusions or hallucinations which can be so frequent in dementia?
- Maintain a controlled, gentle, understanding tone. It may be instinctive to become defensive and argue, but recommended replies may include something such as, “I realize that you are feeling frightened, but I won’t let anything bad happen to you. Let’s enjoy this sandwich together,” or, “Oh no, have you lost some money? Your bank is not open at this time, but let’s go there right away tomorrow and get it straightened out.”
- Move into a welcomed diversion. After sharing in the older adult’s concern, transition into a pleasurable topic or activity that your loved one enjoys, or move to another area. With regards to the suspected food poisoning, you can engage the senior in going into the kitchen and helping her make a fresh sandwich. If you’ve assured the person that you’ll visit the bank together tomorrow, a walk outside to view the flowers and birds, or playing some favorite music, could help.
- Never argue or try to reason. These approaches very often increase agitation in someone with Alzheimer’s. It could take some trial and error to develop the approach that works best, and that approach may have to change from one day to the next. The aim is to stay calm, patient, and empathetic, validating the older adult’s feelings and supplying comfort.
Generations at Home’s care professionals are fully trained and experienced in effective, creative Alzheimer’s care techniques, and can help with managing difficult behaviors and situations, enabling a senior loved one to enjoy a greater quality of life, and providing family caregivers with peace of mind and relief. Call us today at 727-940-3414 to learn more or to request some additional resources which will help you better care for a loved one with dementia.