What Can You Do When an Interaction with Your Loved One Who Has Dementia Isn’t Going Well?
Sometimes you can do everything right with your loved one and yet she reacts in a way that you don’t expect at all when you’re interacting with her. This can be especially unpredictable if your loved one has dementia.
Take a Step Away for a Moment
Before the interaction gets too far out of hand, it helps to take a step back from the situation. This might be just a mental step back or it could be a physical step. Some family caregivers find that it’s helpful to physically go to another room for a moment to allow themselves some space. If you can disengage for a moment or two, you can start to do some detective work on what happened.
Figure out What Caused the Interaction to Go Wrong
Now that you have a moment, look at what is really going on and what your loved one is saying and doing. Your loved one may have motivations that you can understand, even if you can’t understand the behavior at first. Look at what she might need or what could be wrong in her environment that you could correct and therefore improve how your loved one is feeling.
Avoid Arguing with Your Loved One
It’s tempting to try to convince your loved one of reality or of what is truly happening in the interaction, but this can easily devolve into an argument. That’s only going to make things worse, so it’s better to respond to your loved one calmly without contradicting.
Apologize and Validate Your Loved One’s Feelings
A heartfelt apology can go a long way toward defusing the situation. Simply telling your loved one that you’re sorry that you’ve upset her can get you some leeway to smooth over the hard feelings. From there, you can start to get to the root of the issue and try to fix what happened. Working with home care providers who understand dementia can help you to avoid these kinds of pitfalls more often.
As you learn more about how to help your loved one to deal with her situation, you’ll learn her triggers and how to interact with her in ways that work for her.