No matter what I do, my mom will almost always find something wrong with it

My mother has Alzheimer's and she has become so nasty and mean to everyone and she always asks for unrealistic, silly or meaningless items. I get so frustrated and angry, but then I feel guilty because I know it probably isn’t her fault. How can I cope with feeling like this?

Rachelle Bloksberg
Rachelle Bloksberg
Become the best version of yourself.

Alzheimer's can make relationships extremely difficult. It's hard not to take what loved ones with Alzheimer's say personally. If you're a caregiver, try to find some respite. Being "on" all the time to keep your loved one safe is exhausting.

Time away doing something you enjoy can help alleviate the stress. Any small things you can do to nurture yourself throughout the day can help your frazzled nerves so you can stay calm. Remember, Alzheimer's words are not intended to hurt you. Those words are not about you at all.

If the items they ask for are something you can provide, provide them if they are safe, no matter how silly or unreasonable they may seem. If the item can't be provided, you can tell them you will work on it or get it when you go shopping. They will most likely accept your answer and forget shortly. By telling them they can have what they want, you help them stay calm.

If you can find a pattern, you can lessen unpleasant experiences. Are there things that tend to precede outbursts? If you can elevate triggers, you can reduce the behavior. Sometimes a word or activity can be triggering. If you eliminate the word or make changes in the activity, you can make your loved one more comfortable and less apt to lash out. Very simple changes can reduce agitation.

A common issue is paranoia. Perhaps they think someone is stealing or someone will come and take them away. You can calm them down by assuring them that you will keep them safe. You can have them go with you to lock doors or put valuables in a locked drawer.

Distraction can be a helpful tool. You can redirect the conversation or change to a different activity. Sometimes getting up and going for a walk or looking at photos can distract from an agitating moment. Putting on some music they enjoy can also help them change gears.

Softening your language can help to soothe the symptoms of Alzheimer's. A soft tone of voice and carefully chosen words can make a big difference in the responses you receive. Instead of saying the word "no," you can explain in a few words. Something like, "We can do that after lunch." is less threatening or jarring. It they are frustrated, agree with them that the situation is frustrating.

Transitions can be difficult. Gentle reminders that a change will come can soften the blow of a sudden change. Since memory is an issue, the last reminder should be a few seconds before the change.

A big part of dealing with Alzheimer's is being creative. It can help to try to step into their shoes for a moment to assess a situation. Imagine you are frustrated and confused. What would most likely be something you would like in that situation?

Sometimes there's just nothing you can do. All you can do is give them space to work through whatever emotions they are experiencing. Stay close to keep them safe. If you stay calm, they may pick up on it and join you.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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