People with dementia can be stubborn! They insist that the trash goes in the refrigerator, or their mother who died fifteen years ago is going to pick them up in ten minutes. You have two options:

A. Correct their mistake.

B. Agree that they are right.

Option A will not only have them disagree with you, it will likely make them confused or agitated, or in the case of their mother sad that they did not know she died. Almost never does trying to use logic with someone with dementia, especially advanced dementia, ever work.

If you choose option B, you avoid an emotional breakdown. You can always take the trash out of the refrigerator later.

I am sure it feels really good for you to correct your family member and straighten out that the coat closet is for coats and not dirty laundry. Chances are you will be the only one of the two of you who feels better. The dementia sufferer will wonder why you don’t want to put dirty laundry in what they think is the hamper. They may get agitated that you are insisting their coat goes into the hamper when it is not dirty and they will not have it until the laundry is done.

You need look at life from the perspective of someone with dementia and not from your perspective. It is very difficult to do. We understand the world logically. That logic can be turned on its head for a dementia sufferer. Imagine if someone told you to wear a sweater in July or had you put cookies under your mattress instead of in the cookie jar. You would be confused and perhaps angry. This is how you are making your relative feel.

What should you do if someone insists on doing something dangerous or potentially dangerous? Redirect them immediately. If they are going to take a sip of dish detergent, you need to take the detergent out of their hands and say, “That drink has been out for too long. I have drink that is much better in the refrigerator.” Then put the dish detergent away in a safe place so it doesn’t happen again.

I have seen too many well intentioned family members make a situation much worse by correcting their loved ones. These relatives were glad that they helped their loved one remember that they haven’t lived on Maple Street for twenty years, thinking the person will now recall when they moved. What they didn’t understand is that that the dementia sufferer now feels that they have no place to live. These people may not be able to verbalize that they think they are homeless, they just act out.

Regardless of your response, never forget to be kind. No one chooses to have dementia and act the way they do. Stop trying to be right and instead focus on doing the right thing.

picture: Pixabay