Handling Anger and Confusion in a Loved One Living with Dementia
Struggling to respond to an angry outburst from a loved one with dementia? Looking into memory care facilities in Ann Arbor for a loved one with dementia? Ready to be better prepared for the anger and confusion that sometimes come with dementia?
Behavior changes and sudden waves of anger can be one of the most challenging aspects of interacting with a loved with dementia. And if you’re not prepared for these difficult behaviors, it can be easy to react in a way that aggravates the situation instead of diffusing it. But you don’t have to feel like you’re walking through a minefield every time you visit your loved one. It’s easy to learn about these behaviors and the best way to respond with just a few expert tips from professionals in memory care facilities in Ann Arbor.
Best tips for handling confusion and anger with dementia.
1. Aggression often comes from fear:
Vocal or physical aggression is typically triggered by fear, which can be common with confusion. Imagine how scary it might be to have unfamiliar people trying to undress you when you don’t understand or remember what’s going on. Even if a routine like bathing is the same every day for caregivers, it can be confusing and scary for someone with dementia.
Be prepared for aggression in moments where physical contact or environmental changes are necessary; these moments can be quite scary. Try to learn what kinds of events, and requests are likely to trigger aggression. But don’t expect the same reaction every time you perform an activity, either.
If someone becomes aggressive, don’t engage in an argument or altercation. It’s usually best to give them space and try again later.
2. You can’t always respond to confusion rationally:
It can be very difficult for family to respond to questions from a loved one with dementia such as: “when am I going home?” or “where is my husband/wife/partner?” Often the rational, whole-truth kind of answer will be very upsetting, such as repeatedly explaining a spouse died several years ago. But it also doesn’t typically feel very good for us to essentially lie to avoid a difficult subject.
Experts recommend responding to confusion with deflection or distraction. You could use an activity or a new topic of conversation. Simple explanations followed by redirection can also be effective: “This is your home now. Let’s go for a walk!”
3. Deterioration and confusion can lead to issues with judgement.
Misplacing items or not being allowed to have certain items like a candle will lead to confusion and may even result in someone with dementia accusing family or memory care facility staff of stealing or other kinds of delusions. Confusion can also lead to an extreme desire to stockpile or hoard items.
A direct, rational approach probably won’t do much good here. Arguing about a nonexistent stolen candle isn’t going to help anybody. Instead, you can simply explain that candles aren’t allowed here, and redirect to something else. Or you could try to diffuse the situation by saying you’ll bring a new candle next time.
You might also notice a slow deterioration in your loved one’s ability to handle certain tasks that were once second nature, like cooking a familiar recipe. When familiar activities are becoming more difficult, gently offer to help or bring up the issue in a non-threatening way. Making the person feel safe rather than scrutinized with lead to much a better outcome.
With these tips, you can feel much more confident spending time with your loved one with dementia. Some of these behaviors can be scary to witness, but it’s important to remember to respond thoughtfully rather than instinctively. The more you visit your loved one, the more opportunity you’ll have to practice these responses, and you can quickly see your visits going much better!
If you want to talk more about difficult behaviors and dementia or have questions about memory care facilities in Ann Arbor, give us a call at Hillside Terrace today. Remember that at Hillside Terrace, our family shares life with yours.