Members of our online community, Dementia Talking Point, on handling anger or cruel comments caused by someone’s dementia.
‘A tip that I was told was to not say the word “no” when replying, but to start the sentence with the word “Yes” and then say what I needed to say. For example, “Yes, we can do that this afternoon” (when he wants to do it now), “Yes, you need to use your walker when you go outside” (when he wants to go out without it) or “Yes, your pants have to go on first.”’
‘I told her that I knew what she needed, to which I could see her rally for an onslaught, and then opened my arms and said “a hug”. As always, the hug was accepted and the mood changed in an instant. I’m convinced that rage and cruel comments are often a manifestation of anxiety and confusion.’
‘I do think so often it is fear and anxiety that sometimes is the cause. Personally I try to nip things in the bud, I prune everything to give full attention, I slow down, I quieten down, I reassure how much I love him. Everything is put on hold. Tiring and exhausting, yes.’
‘If Mum gets really verbally aggressive at home, I walk away (usually to the kitchen) and wait 10 or 20 minutes and let her calm down. I then go back to her, by which time she has calmed and we carry on as it though it didn’t happen.
‘Very often reassurance in one form or another helps, sometimes it will be a smile and other times a rub on the back and sometimes a hug, which is difficult as I’m a big man of 6ft 4in and Mum is short and frail these days. But she loves a hug and laughs (I always manage to knock her glasses off), even after an outburst.’
‘I’ve learned to spot the episodes long before they flare up, so I have to nudge my mum and remind her that it’s about to happen and not to fuel the fire. Often the anger and cruel comments are there to engage an argument. By letting him have a purge, he always ends up calm and singing or whistling like nothing happened.’
‘The best way to deal with cruel angry behaviour, is with the humblest sincerest kindness that you can muster. None of the cruel words being uttered are truths just the wrangling of a mind corrupted by a cruel disease.’
‘My wife’s anger usually dissipates as quickly as it boils up so it is often best just to look at her and say nothing until it does. Hugs sometimes work but not when she isn’t sure who I am. Saying anything at all so long as it is completely irrelevant to her anger can be a good defence.’
‘I have found if I can distract him by putting music on or taking him into the garden he seems to calm down, other times I just go out of the room.’
Just me says,
‘When it happens I keep repeating to myself, “It’s the dementia, don’t argue, don’t reason,” but it’s easier said than done. When I’m coping well, I often say sorry for upsetting her (even if I haven’t) try and find out if she’s in pain, thirsty etc, and comfort and reassure her depending on what might have caused the anger and vile comments. I’ve read that distraction helps but not in our case.’
What advice would you give about helping someone with dementia to manage their money?
Let us know by 9 September 2019 so we can share it in our next magazine.