It can come seemingly out of the blue: you put your loved one’s favorite tuna sandwich in front of her – light on the mayo, no onions – something which typically brings her pleasure. But this time, she pushes the plate away and will not take a bite, insisting that you have poisoned the meal.
Or, you have presented a senior loved one with a meaningful activity that links her to an important time in her past career, sorting paperwork. All of a sudden, she charges you with meddling with the documents to help steal money from her savings account.
How do you most successfully diffuse situations like these, which are resulting from the delusions or hallucinations which happen to be so prevalent in Alzheimer’s?
1. Maintain a controlled, gentle, understanding tone. It may be instinctive to be defensive and deny the accusation, but appropriate replies may include something similar to, “I realize that you are feeling frightened, but I won’t let anything bad happen to you. Let’s enjoy this food together,” or, “Oh no, have you lost some money? Your bank is not open right now, but let’s go there first thing tomorrow and get it straightened out.”
2. Move into a welcomed diversion. After sharing in the senior’s concern, transition into a pleasurable topic or activity that the senior enjoys, or move to another area. With regards to the suspected food poisoning, you could engage your loved one in going into the kitchen and helping her create a brand new sandwich. If you’ve assured the senior that you will go to the bank together tomorrow, a walk outside to view the flowers and birds, or playing some favorite music, may help.
3. Never argue or try to reason. These approaches have a tendency to intensify agitation in someone with Alzheimer’s. It might take some time and experience to develop the strategy that is best, and that approach may need to differ from one day to another. The goal is to stay relaxed, patient, and empathetic, confirming the senior’s feelings and offering comfort.
JFS Care, dementia caregivers in the Los Angeles area, is highly trained and experienced in creative, effective Alzheimer’s care techniques, and can help with managing challenging situations and behaviors, allowing a senior loved one to enjoy an increased quality of life, and providing family caregivers with relief and peace of mind. Reach out to us today at (213) 383-2273 for more info or to request some additional resources that will help you better care for a family member with Alzheimer’s.