1) Don’t Take it Personally
We all know this is easier said than done, especially when it comes to family members (Doesn’t get more personal than that!). It’s tempting to judge your loved one by old memories or standards. When their behaviour becomes negative, aggressive or rude, you must always remember it’s the dementia talking! No matter how difficult, you should always pause to practice understanding and communicate with compassion, as reacting negatively will most likely further aggravate your loved one and ramp up their negative emotions.
2) Don’t Argue
No matter who is right or wrong, arguing will only worsen the state of your loved one. Instead, it is important that you speak calmly and reassure them that you are listening to their concerns.
Even if your loved one is believing something that is false (as a result of dementia), do not try to talk them out of it as this brings up negative emotions. Instead, allow them to fully express what they are experiencing and ask questions. If possible, change the subject to a pleasant memory as this may bring up good emotions and the conversation may take a positive turn.
3) Talk to a Healthcare Professional
In certain occasions, liaising with your local GP, District Nurse, Care assistant (or other healthcare professional) may reveal underlying causes of your loved one’s aggression.
This could be causes such as sleep deprivation, constipation, medication side effects, an infection or even a painful condition. The sooner the issue is identified, the sooner a remedy/solution can be introduced.
4) Take a Break
Caring for a loved one with dementia can be an exhausting task, and almost impossible to do alone!
Therefore, it is important that you take a break and take care of yourself first.
This could involve exercising, having healthy meals, talking to a counsellor, seeing friends, joining a dementia support group, spending time with family etc.
If you are unable to leave your loved one alone, ask a friend/family member or reach out to a local care company to provide respite care.
5) Adjust the Environment
Creating a more relaxed environment can often be very helpful to your loved one with dementia.
This can be done in different ways:
Tidying up/removing clutter
Limiting number people in the room
Playing calming music
Reading to your loved one