Talking Point members’ and readers’ advice for someone whose relative or friend with dementia seems ‘like a different person’.
We asked members of Talking Point for their tips for someone who feels their relative or friend with dementia is ‘like a different person’ because their personality has changed.
Talking Point is a helpful community that’s free and open 24/7, where anyone who’s affected by dementia can get valuable support online.
‘Damage to the brain leaves its mark and, depending where in the brain is affected, causes different patterns of behaviour.
‘I’ve had to change too, adapting to what my husband needs and how to meet those needs. So, we are both different people.’
Sarah Williams in East Sussex says,
‘The way that I approached my mum with her dementia was like meeting someone different for the first time.
‘I find the different stages she is at as a new experience for me to learn something new about my mum and a little bit more about “her world”.
‘It is tough sometimes, I will not lie. But being in my mum’s world sometimes is exciting and teaches me something new.’
‘My husband got angry, shouted and swore at me, something he had never done before, as we had never had a cross word in our 25 years together.
‘Talk to someone and start stepping back from it, so it doesn’t become personal.
‘There is too little help with behavioural issues, and I spent many a night in tears.’
‘When my loving, beautiful mum tells me that I want her dead, I try to think about the damage wrought in her brain by this disease.
‘I think about how these unbidden, unwelcome changes inside her brain are changing her… She is frightened.
‘I think of this, I keep the science, the understanding, the compassion at the front of my mind and yet still it hurts and hurts and hurts.’
‘Remember the person before their dementia, because the person before you now will start to exhibit many changes and some will be painful to see. It’s not their fault when these changes happen.
‘I never once heard my dad swear until he suffered with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
‘I witnessed some extreme bursts of anger, rudeness and accusations that I knew were totally untrue, it was not the Dad I knew.’
‘Accept this is the disease and not your loved one’s fault. Accept this is how they are today but that tomorrow may be different.
‘Take a break, let some time pass and sit quietly with them and hopefully you will see that they are still in there.
‘My dad would be mortified to know how he speaks to the carers during personal care, but they accept it isn’t his fault.’
‘If the changes are just too great and you really can’t do it anymore, don’t feel guilty because it’s not your fault and nothing you can do will change how things are now.’
‘The person may in some ways appear “like” a different person, but they are the same person with an invisible injury which has affected how their brain works
‘One daughter I met said it helped her to have seen the image of the scan of her mother’s brain, so saw for herself how much damage there was.’
Happy Hampton says,
‘Maybe I’m not in that stage yet. My personality has changed. But for the best.
‘I’m nicer, don’t complain about anything, I have a mini meltdown occasionally, but Hubs brings it under control.’
Do you have any advice to deal with how it feels if you’re falsely accused of something by a relative or friend who has dementia?
Let us know by the end of 4 May 2022 so we can share it in our next magazine.