Your answers: Anger and cruel comments

Members of our online community, Dementia Talking Point, on handling anger or cruel comments caused by someone’s dementia.

canary says,

‘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.”’

karaokePete says,

‘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.’ 

AliceA says,

‘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.’  

Talking Point
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Palerider says,

‘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.’  

InElysium says,

‘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.’ 

BLONDY says,

‘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.’ 

northumbrian_k says,

‘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.’ 

Nabroc says,

‘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.

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Dementia together magazine: Aug/Sept 19

Dementia together magazine is for everyone in the dementia movement and anyone affected by the condition.
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My wife has power of attorney to handle her mums finances on line, but her mum is suspicious that her money is being syphoned off. She was once capable and fiercely independent. She wants to have control and wants go to her bank branch and talk nonsense to the manager, and to see the account balance. Mum now has no capacity to understand figures, but she stashes her paper bank statements away in her bag and guards them jealously. I try to give my mother-in-law the illusion that she is in control, and encourage her to draw cash at the ATM with her card (I enter the pin), or let her pay on her own with cash or contactless card at shop checkouts. Sometimes, when she is adjitated, I take her to the bank branch many miles away. My wife says it is a waste of time, but it is not; it gives mum confidence and peace of mind.

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I've found this article very informative . My mom was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia in 2016. Her memory is sometimes spot on (She can recall her SS#, her address, DOB, children's names, etc). While at other times after taking her to the doctor she doesn't believe her home is where she lives. She refuses to take her medication and wants to leave the house in the middle of the night. The police are on alert b/c she has gotten out in spite of our attempts to keep her safe. Shes on anti anxiety and depression meds along with her regular meds. We know that her depression was brought on by the death of her husband and my brother. She still lives in her home and has a caregiver for 5 hours daily and my brother lives with her. However, she has gotten increasingly difficult and verbally abusive with him and he is tired. She has left the stove on and set her clothes on fire. We cant allow her to cook and that was her passion. I am reluctant to place her in a memory Care facility because of her long periods of clarity and seemingly complete cognitive recognition. But I worry about her safety and our lack of knowledge on just how to handle her. She has regular visits with her psychiatrist, eye doctor, diabetic doctor, stomach doctor, podiatrist, and dentist. She constantly loses her dentures or hides them and packs clothes to go "home". She often lives in another era and in other states. I've heard such negative reports concerning the memory care facilities that I find my self reluctant to place her there in spite of the fact that I believe its for her safety and care. (i've visited over 25 facilities and although they seem okay, the larger ones are not affordable and the smaller one are so tiny I know she would not be happy). I don't want to hurt her. My family is totally against the idea, but no one other than my bother and I are available to care for her. (They have other family obligations). He lives with her and tends to her daily needs ( administer meds, fix breakfast, while I take her to her doctors appointments, do her shopping and handle her bills. I love my mom and recognize that we are in need of advice.

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Hi Chris, thank you for getting in touch. It sounds like you're going through a very tough time.
If you are seeking information, advice and support, our National Dementia Helpline advisers are available on 0300 222 11 22 from Monday to Wednesday (9am-8pm), Thursday to Friday (9am–5pm) and Saturday to Sunday (10am-4pm). We also have a live online advice service. Find out more about our helpline services here:
Additionally, you may benefit from joining our online community where you can share your experiences with other people affected by dementia. Learn more about Dementia Talking Point:…
We really hope this helps, Chris.
Alzheimer's Society Blog Team

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