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Any dementia or Alzheimer’s patient can have a bad day. As a caregiver, these tense moments can leave you on edge. When your loved one is upset, the situation can escalate rapidly – and in ways that you don’t always expect. Knowing how to handle tense situations is never easy, but there are some tips to keep in mind.
t’s easy to blame the disease process for unexpected mood swings, but there is often a trigger that sets off the change. Ask yourself, “Why are they angry?” Is it possible that they are simply uncomfortable or upset about something? Never be quick to write off a mood swing as unexplainable; there may be a legitimate reason for the change.
For caregivers of those suffering from dementia, a primary conflict can be frustration. Since many caregivers are the children of the patient, they may have known the patient for most of their life. During that time, they came to know their personality, but now everything seems to have changed. The clash between our expectations and this new reality is what causes our frustration. But this attitude is unfair to the patient. Just as children’s interests (and even their personality) change throughout adolescence and adulthood, an aging dementia patient’s personality may not be what we are used to. Accepting this change will help you stay reasonable in difficult moments.
Remember despite any mental changes, they still have a right to make their own decisions. Very often, caretakers create tense situations by making mountains out of molehills. When safety and health are not at stake, it’s usually best to yield to the patient’s decisions. For example, choosing to go outside in the dead-of-winter wearing just a nightgown is unsafe; choosing to wear clothes that don’t match is not. Many tense moments will disappear if you learn which battles to fight.
No matter what, you have to keep a clear head. Though mood swings can be frustrating, you can never take them personally. Being empathetic goes a long way towards helping you stay cool. Many dementia patients know when they are being forgetful, and it’s frightening for them. It’s often this fear that causes them to become frustrated and lash out in the first place. If you strive to be a calming, soothing influence, tense situations won’t last long.
Nobody’s perfect, and even the most loving caregivers can only handle so much. Don’t let yourself reach the edge; if you feel you are near your breaking point, ask for help. A fresh, well-rested, calm mind will keep problems to a minimum. Respite care can be the perfect fit for this type of situation.
Even when the load is divided up amongst several family members, you might quickly find yourself reaching your limit. For many, the right decision is to seek professional help. Fedelta Home Care has been serving families in the Puget Sound area for well over a decade, and we’d love to bring our experience into your home. Contact us today to learn more about our home care and care management services.