4 Questions to ask yourself before arguing with an Alzheimer’s or Dementia patient

4 Things to remember before you Argue

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:

  1. Is this argument important?
  2. Will I ever win this argument?
  3. Will both of us grow more angry and stressed and aggravated?
  4. 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.

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Comments

  1. When mother-sitting, I read all that I could get my hands on! Every book spoke about the process of validation. However, for me, there was a big learning curve involved. The other factors that came into play so much related to tiredness and frustration. Going in to my Care Bear experience, I had high standards for myself! I had been working as a group counselor at an alternative school for expelled high school students so how could there be a more chaotic kind of situation? From my perspective, learning to cope with my mother’s behaviors, attitudes and responses related to the ways in which I learned to honor and validate my emotions that surfaced relating to the grief from watching my mother disappear. Having the knowledge about dementia-related illness was top of the list for me. I would have loved to have been able to have this book during my Care Bear years! I would not trade my experience for anything. There were too many precious moments. Plus, I learned a lot!

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