New Approaches for Dealing With Difficult Dementia Behaviors

When most people think of someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, they picture a senior with a benign, slightly confused demeanor who repeats themselves. But, there is a whole spectrum of other types of behaviors associated with the disease that most of us wouldn’t describe as slightly or “pleasantly confused” by any stretch of the imagination.New Approaches for Dealing with Difficult Dementia Behaviors

From angry outbursts to more physical manifestations of behavior, understanding and dealing with our loved one’s dementia behaviors may be one of the most stressful parts of being a caregiver.  Fortunately, these tips listed below can help you get through the moment.

New Approaches to Difficult Dementia Behaviors

When dealing with difficult behaviors from someone with dementia, it’s important to remember that they are not deliberately being difficult.

Our loved one’s sense of reality may now be different from ours, but it is still very real to him or her. As caregivers, we can’t change the person with dementia, but we can employ strategies to better accommodate any problem behaviors. Both the environment you create at home and the way you communicate with your loved one can make a significant difference.

These tips may help get you through some difficult moments using the “What, When, Where, Why, How” technique shared in: “When Caring Takes Courage: A Compassionate and Interactive Guide for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers.”


Identify the causes of Alzheimer’s or dementia behavior problems.

  1. Examine the behavior objectively. Are your loved one’s actions truly a problem behavior? Problem behaviors are typically those that can result in an adverse outcome for your loved one or others. For example: can they result in harm to self or others?
  2. Some behavior can be embarrassing, disruptive or uncomfortable to be around, but may not actually be harmful. Avoid correcting, intervening or unintentionally escalating situations by knowing when to let some things go. If Mom would rather wear four layers of pants at a time and rummage through her closet non-stop, let her. Protect your loved one from harm and then allow some sense of freedom and control by creating space for your loved one to make their own choices when possible.


Look for patterns that help you predict and prevent problem behaviors.

  1. Ask yourself what happened just before the problem behavior started. Did something specific trigger that behavior?
  2. Is there a certain time of day that seems to be more difficult on your loved one? Sundown for example? Or bath/shower time?
  3. Are certain times of the year more difficult? Winter, when days are darker and nights longer, for instance?


What effects are environmental changes having on your loved one?

  1. What did the environment look, smell or sound like? What did they see?
  2. Were there new or different stimuli introduced? Noise, people, places or even your requests of them?
  3. Does changing their atmosphere or environment help to comfort your loved one?


Identify the causes of Alzheimer’s and dementia behavior problems.

  1. Remember to focus on the “why” when approaching someone with dementia. Seek first to understand why your loved one may be behaving this way, rather than what it is they are actually doing. For example, a person who disrobes may be feeling that their clothing is too tight, too hot or too itchy, or may need to use the bathroom.
  2. Understand that your loved one’s behavior can often be a reaction to stress or a frustrated attempt to communicate. If you can establish why they’re stressed or what is triggering the discomfort, you should be able to resolve the problem behavior with greater ease.
  3. Try to put yourself in your loved one’s place. Look at their body language and imagine what he or she might be thinking and what they might be feeling or trying to express.
  4. Are all of your loved one’s basic human needs being met? Could they be tired, need to use the bathroom? Be hungry, thirsty, or in pain? Meeting an unmet need can quickly resolve the reason for the behavior in the first place.


Okay, you’re in the thick of it now. This is definitely a problem behavior… now what? Here’s how to get through some difficult moments:

  1. Validate your loved one’s feelings. If I have dementia and I’m upset, I have likely lost the ability to reason. The more you try to explain to me why my thinking is “wrong” or I don’t need to be worried, the more agitated I’m going to be, because it feels like you are not listening to me. Let your loved one know you understand that they’re upset and that you want to help.
  2. Remember, your loved one responds to your body language, facial expression and tone of voice far more than the words you choose. Use eye contact, a smile, or reassuring touch to help convey your message and show your compassion. Try not to take problem behaviors personally and do your best to maintain your sense of calm.
  3. Be accepting instead of contradicting. Instead of correcting or arguing, look for opportunities to agree. If your loved one is insisting on the keys, instead of saying “No” for example, try: “Yes, I’ll make sure you get your keys as soon as the mechanic is done with the car. Where should we go first?”
  4. Introduce pleasant stimuli into the situation: a favorite song, food, drink, photo, texture, scent, collectible or other items that you know they enjoy.
  5. Use familiar music, favorite scents and items that evoke positive feelings. Often caregivers will gather these things ahead of time and keep a “behavior bucket” full of needed items on hand, so you can grab them the moment you need them.
  6. Try to engage your loved one in a favorite hobby or interest, or try looking at photographs of familiar people and places.
  7. Use a cooling off period if needed, when possible. If safe to do so, give your loved one some space or breathing room.

Things to Keep in Mind When Dealing With Difficult Behaviors

What’s not okay? People with Alzheimer’s or dementia often exhibit behaviors that are unpredictable and may be outside the bounds of what others consider “normal” or socially acceptable. It may be tough to know when to worry and when to be flexible.

In general, try to remember that these behaviors do not define the person, they are just a product of the disease. If your loved one had the ability, they would probably choose to act differently.

Also, remember to practice patience and forgiveness. The disease, not the person, is likely causing these things to occur. Try to let things go and avoid holding a grudge over something they may not have meant to do or say, or even remember doing. The exception is if your loved one becomes a physical danger to themselves or others. Physically abusive behavior is not okay. Even a one-time occurrence should be communicated to your physician or other healthcare or mental health provider immediately to ensure your loved one’s safety as well as your own.

Finally, there are so many more behavior interventions, treatments and specialty care providers now than ever before. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

Telling someone what’s really happening at home doesn’t mean a one-way ticket for your loved one into a behavioral unit or a “no questions asked” prescription for more medications. It’s just the start of a needed conversation with professional providers who may be able to add some value by identifying more ways of helping you and your loved one have better days.

What approaches do you use when dealing with difficult dementia behaviors? Share your story with us in the comments below.

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • kathy fry

    My brother has early stage dementia and he also has downs syndrome making his situation all the more difficult is there an organization that covers this type of problem?

  • Lisa

    I do I keep him for taking my clothes?

  • cat

    my hubby and a friend both say they have nothing wrong and I think because they are so smart in many ways . but the cracks get bigger but they are ok it is me

  • Naomi Saint Cilien

    Have you thought about a group home? The staff are trained to redirect ahs support all sorts of ailments.

  • Vicky Ruppert

    I agree that validating your loved one’s feelings, reassuring them, letting them know you are going to solve the problem together, all in as few words as possible is the best approach to try first. However, as the brain becomes more and more compromised this approach will not always work. My husband’s final stage that made me place him was a stage of worrying about his body with delusions of what was happening. For instance, if his nose was running because of allergies, he was sure that blood was running down the back of his throat. He thought he was dying. In this case agreeing with him didn’t work because he wanted to go see our doctor at 4am, and he couldn’t understand why I wasn’t as alarmed as he. No explanations of what was really happening were accepted by him, and he became very paranoid, including when I tried to administer Flonase to help his problem. The delusional thinking was taking over.

    It was at this point in his Alzheimer’s that he viewed me as a threat, or someone not aligned with his way of thinking, and he wanted to move back to New Jersey….to be with his childhood friends. He said our marriage wasn’t working, thus I couldn’t come. He left to walk to New Jersey from New York, with no wallet, one slipper, and one shoe. I could not keep him safe, so I instituted a mental health arrest by the county sheriff. They were wonderful and skillfully asked him to ride in an ambulance to the hospital to be checked out first, because his eyes didn’t “look right”. Then they would release him and he could go on his way.

    From there to assisted living, and on down the path…. from these experiences I co-wrote “Singing In The Rain: Weathering The Storm Of Dementia With Humor, Love, & Patience with Ann Henderberg.

    • Sandra

      Thank you for this comment. I just ordered your book because I choose to deal with my husband’s dementia with love and humor and need all the support I can get 🙂 Bless you!

  • EBart

    I love these articles that tell you to try and “sooth” the agitated dementia patient. It seems like the people writing these articles have never ever actually cared for someone with aggressive behaviors. None of the techniques above work. NONE. And most medications don’t work. Doctors don’t want to overmedicate because they are afraid of getting sued. No assisted living facility wants a patient that poses a threat. It’s impossible to care for your loved ones yourself because you have a job and it literally drains the life out of you.

    There are literally no real resources out there for caregivers dealing with a relative with aggressive behavior and dementia. I have tried everything. Dozens of facilities. Scores of doctors. Lawyers. Geriatric care managers. Geri psych units. I’ve never felt so helpless and alone. I pray every night my mom progresses past this stage of her disease – the spitting, cursing, yelling, grabbing, scratching, hitting.

    • caitlinburm

      Hi EBart,

      We appreciate your comments and are sorry to hear how you feel about this blog content. This blog was written by an Alzheimer’s caregiver, and many of us here at, myself included, have been impacted by this terrible disease.

      My Grandmother with dementia who my family could no longer care for, has now gone through various medications, two memory care communities and is now in a geriatric psych unit for her increasingly aggressive dementia behavior, which includes cursing, screaming and hitting. I can understand what you’re going through, as can many of us here at

      I invite you to continue to share with us and vent on this blog when needed. We strive to be a social network that is a respite, resource and a way to connect with others who share the common bond of dementia.

    • CTB

      I understand where you are coming from. If anyone comes to visit my mother with or without my knowledge, she is nice to their face and as soon as they leave she is demanding to know what I meant by bringing those people in there. She thinks because I am not there 24 hours a day I have abandoned her and don’t love her. I am afraid to be alone with her for fear she will try to harm me because she thinks I am out to get her. I do not know how I will get through this.

    • Sheryl Dever

      Wow I totally get what you are saying. I just went through one of my Mom’s meltdowns a week ago. Took her to a local hospital where they were going to release her. I had to beg and ask them to reconsider because of her behavior at home. He said and I quote “next time it happens just call the police of her”. Yeah I will call the police on a 70 year old dementia patient. OMG why can’t they help dementia patients? Not even the Alz./Dementia foundation had any suggestions except to send her to a behavior hospital with other VIOLENT people. I had her there for 1 day had to pull her out. It was to dangerous and even they were not doing anything. In fact they were not even giving her, her medicine. She had a UTI, which I guess can cause a lot off behavioral issues in dementia patients like agitation, violence, rage, delusions, just to name the ones I can remember. You would think that would be one to give Mom. Anyway there is not one place to help me with Mom. It is ridiculous, they have all kinds of places for aids/HIV, cancer, Kidney disease, Drug addition but not one for dementia. It is a very sad place to be, as a caregiver of a dementia patient I am totally all alone on my own.

    • guest

      I feel for you so much and am so sorry. There are articles, organizations, doctors, care centers (if you can afford it) etc.. but when it comes right down to it… its up to us alone. Draining, totally losing yourself and your own life becoming unimportant is an understatement. What to do if there are no other family members to help or they just ‘don’t have time’? I don’t know. Someone told me there is a special place in heaven for those who care enough to hang in there but to what end ? I am also pretty much alone, loving my husband so much but feeling like I have given all I have left and will it ever end for him? For me? Feeling scared, alone, uncertain of the future and knowing I have lost him to dementia. If nothing is left of me in the end I will know I did everything and gave everything to him that I could……….. but the cost was myself.

    • Roe Dones

      I totally agree with you. They are not writing from experience it seems! I am exhausted from it all. It’s been 6 years of hell. When does it ever end?

    • CalGal

      I’m going through exactly the same thing with my 86 year old mom. Unless you’ve dealt with it you have NO idea what it’s like. When she gets aggressive it’s like a scene from the Exorcist….and she never remembers a thing. There is NOTHING that you can do during an episode. She’s in a nursing home and they call me asking for my help when it happens but by the time I get there 99.9% of the time she’s calmed down. They’re trying to get her moved to a place that handles geri psych patients. I’m praying it helps or that God intervenes…

      • christine

        God may intervene,,but is this for your caring loving trusting…yes im in your shoes too, its not their fault…it could be you one day… life is to short..

    • Tan Mom’s Suspicious Mole

      I agree. These platitudes are insulting.

    • Melanie

      My mom has dementia and physically abuses my dad every day. I don’t know how he can still stand by her. She is so very very mean. I know it’s the disease but I have a hard time being around her. She calls and stops by all the time. If I don’t answer the phone, she screams at me and says what if there was an emergency. I calmly told her the other night she hadn’t been calling me for hours. She had called me twice I was in the shower and it had only been 15 minutes. It’s like so hard because she is so aggressive and only wants to fight. I’m considering moving about an hour away because I know she wouldn’t drive that far to come see me. She used to live about an hour away and never visited. She moved into a smaller cheaper apartment that is literally 2 minutes from where I live. My dads a saint, if I ever get this disease, I hope my kids put me in a home and everyone just forgets about me. I know that is mean but it is so hard, I feel like I can’t escape.

      • Dee Dee

        Hmm,this is sad to think this way about your mother .I dealt with this same issue with my grandmother and now my mother.I’m sure she wouldn’t have given up on you so easily.

  • Guest

    I Care for Parkinson’s spouse alone. No family. Demands and attentions are constant and without end. The worst thing has now become being required to be present or near by 24/7 to a person who

    • Shellie Griffith

      I’m not sure if you’ve tried a homecare company for respite or a break but it might allow you to have some time just for you. Many companies will do just a few hours.

  • Pat

    My husband has begun to masturbate in bed mostly as he is waking up but sometimes in the middle of the night. This makes me want to flee the bedroom so I can get some undisturbed rest. Should I try to talk to him about it? He still understands conversations and is a sweet man. But it’s disturbing to me.

  • Trying hard

    I and my four brothers and sisters have been “caring” for my father at home for going on three years. He has dementia and parkinsons disease.

    I say “caring” because none of us are really equiped to deal with this, but several of my siblings still think “it is simple, just abc/xyz”. Of course that isnt realistic

    Caring for someone in my father’s situation is extremely stressful and on top of the day to day stresses of all the other aspects of our lives, as painful as it is to say it and as selfish as it may SOUND, it is an extremely heavy burden.

    As someone who never had a close relationship although we all lived with him (army mentality dad – work, discipline, few pats on the back) with my father, it was difficult to mentally adjust to him being so “needy”, demanding, and picky – he didnt raise us that way and we now had to turn around and give him a level of attention that was far from the treatment we recieved.

    I am not trying to complain – I am stating what feelings I and others may possibly go through.

    The demented behavior, accusations of stealing/lying, confusion, sundowning, etc from a person you love can be – will be – very trying and very stressful!

    It is important to remdmber that you have to take care of yourself, your mental, and your feelings just as much or more than you do for your loved one.

    While this may sound selfish, it is far from that. For the first two years, i put my life on hold and focused on caring for my dad. Understand that I am a young 30 something throughout this – in the prime of getting my life together.

    As a result of all the stress, pressure, etc. i got burned out – i began to despise the situation and even developed ill feelings for my father – i would also get physically sick.

    Caring for someone with dementia is totally different from caring for a different type of elderly person. You watch the person who was once strong and smart become weak and confused…the person who loved to work struggle with boredom and anxiety…the person who once seemed to not let anything affect them, be depressed and emotionsl all the time.

    Then you have to deal with family and friends who rarely understand.

    You try to develop some normacy – cleaning up, taking them out, setting up visits – only to have them mess areas up and then complain about how junky it is, have episodes that prevent you from bringing them out or having company.

    It is the most challeging situation I have ever faced.

    Yet, I look at my dad and know that what I am going through pales greatly in comparison to what he is dealing with.

    Offen times people feel like “sending their loved ones off” is being selfish or not showing them the love they showed you growing up – the huge expense of nursing homes and care centers doesn’t help either.

    The reality though is that we are being selfish when we arent giving /able to provide our loved ones with the level of care they need.

    I came to that realization 2 years ago, unfortunately my siblings did not agree.

    • Don C

      Everything that you stated is all true. And yes they were all fun and loving individuals but as soon as their dementia illness kicks in. There is so much remorse. I need to think of my own health too as well as my wife’s health. It takes a lot of patience s and understanding but for my dad we all love him. Its a next step of having him stay in a CareHome environment. To where he can socialize and be with other people around him.

    • Donna

      Thank you for writing everything that I’ve been dealing with. On top of everything are often people who just don’t understand

  • I have spent the entire day making sure my mother is well taken care of, it is now midnight, and she just got up and accused me of taking her potato chips away. That is all she cares about.

    I do not know what to do.

  • Susan Butterfield

    My husband has just tried to break someone’s arm. He’s 6′ and 15 stone. I’m 5’5″and 9 stones. I have no idea why I should be forced to manage this or other people expected to excuse it. It is assault Bottom line he should not be out in society but we can’t afford £6,000 a month for a care home.
    Alzheimers society – address the Govt who will not fund care and get real about the impossibility of family members trying to deal with a complex illness that needs to be handled by experts in the nhs.

  • Dianne Elizabeth

    My mother with dementia has obsessions. Picking her scalp, nose, etc. the latest is constantly moving her mouth and sucking on her dentures, scraping her false teeth, etc. it is so loud and nerve racking to be around. I have taken her to the dentist to get her dentures checked, etc and dentists agreed it is the dementia. I am at my wits end. I trying to be gentle & compassionate. I don’t know how to help her with this compulsion.

    • Sarah

      There is a grinding bite guard you can sleep with to help. Don’t know if this will help at all but maybe take the dentures out when she’s not eating?

  • betty holmes

    How to handle a love one that constant walk and move causing them to fall at times

  • betty holmes

    My husband has dementia for 10 years now and I am his only caregiver
    he only take naps and up at 5am each morning

    • Gary Smith

      My wife from what I am gathering has dementia. This year was very rough. She started to have hyper sexual problems which caused her to have what she says was an affair. I did not realize it but when asked she cried and then got up a business as usual. After have five psychotic episodes along with two months of delusions she is calming down. What I have noticed in the last six-eight month, extreme mood changes, happy, bitter, loving, mad and back. Took her to a counseling and psychology place they treated it as a normal person with no cognitive disorder. But the last month has been getting pretty messy. She has consent memory lapses, goes from one persona to another and today she went from loving me to saying she was in love with the person she had the affair with to bashing me verbally, saying she wants to be like she was in high school, saying she has lied about a lot of different things over the years to back to loving me. All this was in front of our marriage counselor who I think was astonished. Monday she and I went to the neurologist who within less than twenty minutes figured it was frontal lobe dementia. She is to get a mri and a three hour test for memory. After leaving today my wife said this is very difficult for her, she is trying very hard and said she never would have cheated if her mom was still around. Unfortunately until a diagnose is made I have no recourse for help or resources, I have zero support from her family who see her maybe 1-2 times yearly. When they see her she is normal to them but living with her 24×7 is different. I am in a situation were I am lost at what to do. .

      • Ginny

        I am caring for my mum…she has become more difficult since my dad passed away. I am having to learn very quickly how to cope. She goes from loving hating this “other woman” who bullies her and wants to beat her.
        It is me she is referring to..very difficult and more so because I am not getting enough sleep as I have to assist her throughout the night. Some nights I have less than 2 hours sleep. During the day I cannot rest as I have household chores etc.
        I am finding it so hard but I am committed and will not have her put into any institution.

  • Hilde

    I’m the caregiver, live in, for my aunt for the past 10 months. Dementia, usually she’s very sweet, very confus3d, but for about a month straight she’s been showing signs of sundowners, putting coat on, carry a purse, gloves etc and wants to go ?? Not trying to actually get out, just walking around like that, for 2-3 hrs sometimes. Also refused bathing, change clothes etc. Very frustrated, I’m the only one , 24/7

  • Bach blossoms remedies, give wonderfull results !

    • Tania Potter

      Hi Andre. Can you recommend any specific ones or is it dependant on each person?

      • Thank You Tania for your reply.
        I gave the Bach Rescue Pastilles, no alcohol no sugar, to my mother.

  • June Pope

    what if dr refuses to give a med that may calm patient down she pulls/pushes and will push mecalm it is not her fault

  • Sandra “Sandi” Holman

    I don’t know what to do anymore! My mother in law has dementia. She moved in with us in June. She just doesn’t have the money to go into a memory care facility. For the most part, it is OK. I mean we can deal with it. But we are in the midst of hell right now! I know that pain sets her I to a tizzy. We had 6 teeth pulled in na heart and for 2 weeks she was totally gone and off the deep end. It passed. We just had to have e her get an epidural cortisone injection due to a burst fracture in L4. Since then she is crying throughout the day about a lost ring. She swears that she had to give the doctor her to get during the procedure and does the remember getting it back. She can’t tell me what kind do of ri g it is (hoping I could find one in her pounds of jewelry we could do when we moved her here). The only ring she has worn since I have know her (11 years) is in her finger as I write this. She has given her room apart looking for this ring, swears she wears it every day, and then proceeds to cry because she has lost it. I have no idea what to do! I feel so helpless! Did I mention she is legally blind due to macular degeneration and only has a 40 percent comprehension of what she hears? She is bored to tears and has all the time in the world to sit and stew over a different g that doesn’t exist! Please help. I am at my wit’s end! Cant wait to see what happens when we pull the rest of her teeth for dentures in 3-4 weeks!

    Thanks for listening to my frustration and for any help you may have.


  • Joshua Nelson

    How do I deal with a physical altercation between people and my father with dementia? When ever he attempts to attack someone I don’t know what to do, I’m only fifteen and not very strong and I can’t exactly force him to stop. I’m afraid he might come at me when I’m not paying attention. He’s already broken various items in the house by lifting them and dropping them (Things much heavier than me)

  • Kris Olinger

    My mother had a stroke 6 years ago. Now, I am noticing definite signs of dementia. My father died about 61/2 years ago. Recently my mom started asking where he is and if I ever see him. She doesn’t remember that he’s dead and doesn’t think he is. Should I tell her that he died and try to get her to remember or just say I don’t know where he is?

    • Julie


      • Julie

        Hi Kris. First let me give you my heartfelt sympathy for what you’re going thru with your mother. It is not easy.
        My Mum did the same thing. My Dad has been dead for 5 years and she would ask over and over why he didn’t visit. She is in a very good facility.
        At first we told her he died and even showed her the memorial cards from the funeral. She would become furious and lash out at us. The staff at the facility told us to enter into her world and accept her reality. We did. We told her that Dad loved her but couldn’t visit because he was not allowed to drive. She said, well he always was a terrible driver.
        We also told her that my brother in law was taking good care of him. This worked. Something like this is worth a try. Please know you are not alone. I wish you the best.

  • jay lane

    im a 16 year old girl that has to deal with her 84 year old GREAT grandma with dementia/alzheimers. I regrettably get very short tempered with her because I don’t fully understand this disease. She accuses me of things that I never did and of course as teenagers do I argue with her about it which makes the situation worse. I know that she’s gonna die soon and I dont want to get into a terrible argument and her die because of it. She asks me at least 4 times a day what day it is. And it obviously gets annoying. And I don’t know how to handle it and im thinking of seeing a therapist.

    • Tired DIL

      Jay lane, you deserve a therapist or counselor that you can confide in! The stress this adds on every family member is incredible- I can only imagine what it must be like as a teen. You deserve a safe place to let off steam. Please remember you are not alone in this (my 12 yr old twins are experiencing this too), and it is just for a season. She will move to a care facility, or die. You will grow up and leave home… so hang in there! It has come, and it will pass 🙂

      • Danny Gomez

        I’m 17 and I have to deal with a grandpa with dementia. I live in a 1 bd apartment so he’s in the living room and I’m trying to study and he won’t stop screaming and shouting. He always needs my grandma next to him, he’s giving my mom a hard time, I know it sounds bad but I want him gone. It’s so hard to deal with this but is there any medication to help him calm down. He’s always so agitated and anxious. He doesn’t let anyone sleep, he wants people to be around him. I feel your pain guys, I really do, I just don’t know if I can go through all this myself

  • Victoria

    Hello I’m actually posting i feel on behalf of a lady at work who’s mum has I think vascular dementia.Her mum’s in a care home and we often catch up over our break at work on how’s she’s doing and stuff.Today she said for the first time she felt that even though her mum’s in a care home the carer’s aren’t speclised as such even though there lovely. But feels like she’s got knowhere to turn for the professional support she feels she now needs on a personal level is there anywhere in manchester she can contact or website link it can give her.I only put suport for families with dementia relatives in to Google because today is the first time I’ve heard her say about additional support and she seemed so down. Thank you for any help

  • Steve

    My mother in-law has been acting out in the middle of the night. She barely sleeps but, when she does she tends to wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. She then turns on the lights of the bedroom and starts screaming at my father-in-law (her husband of 50 years) that she hates him and wants him out of there. She says she doesn’t even know who he is. I believe its a reaction because she is scared but, my father in-law is at a loss and is in virtual prison. He’s in Savannah and we live up in New England. I’m not sure the best way to manage or assist from afar. Any recommendations? He doesn’t want to hospitalize her but, is somewhat agreeable to in-home care. Any thoughts?

    • Monica

      Hi, perhaps they should begin to sleep in different rooms. In her room place items that she once loved, photos from when she was younger, favorite fragrance can be calming also try music(have an in home caregiver that can assist her and help to calm her down during the night). Hope this helps. like my page on Facebook for more tips at cole companion care llc.

  • ThreeGirls

    My father has had dementia for a couple of years. He is currently 86. My two sisters and I have just recently reached out to a Hospice group for additional help. When the Hospice staff comes in he always tries to grab at them and makes very disrespectful comments that would embarrass anyone. We are afraid that he is going to push things so far that they are no longer going to help us. We cannot be there with the staff every time they come in because of our work schedules and then it would defeat the whole purpose of having them come in to begin with. Any advise on how to communicate with him regarding his inappropriate behavior and comments? We have no idea how to handle this.

    • Anne Stewart

      Alzhiemer’s Society has been great for us -counceling/listening – they do have good publications re behaviours

    • JaelZion

      Honestly the Hospice staff should be pros at this. My Dad has two caregivers and he behaves similarly, he will touch them inappropriately and say inappropriate things. They are really good at drawing boundaries and making him back off (at least when it comes to touching). And when he says things, they will ignore it and just focus on the task at hand. Like he will say “Why don’t you get in the bed with me?” And they’ll respond “My husband wouldn’t like that. Do you want some breakfast?” If they’ve been caregiving any length of time they will know that it’s the disease talking and not take it personally.

  • Dennis in Oregon

    My wife lately has taken to screaming help, help, help and will not allow me to touch her or talk to her. This has occurred in public places, parking lots, stores or walking downtown. Once strangers called the police and reported physical abuse which never happened, but now I have a record of spousal abuse. What next I really don’t want to commit her.

    • Monica

      Hi, I would say try finding a caregiver for respite care while you handle the shopping and things of that nature, and as far as touching her she may feel more comfortable with a female assisting her with getting dressed and things of that nature. To spark up a connection with her try putting together a memory bag with photos and scents that she loves, think of a song that she once loved and play it often. Hope this helps also like my page on Facebook for more tips at cole companion care llc.

  • Cindy

    My mother recently has shown signs of dementia accusing me of stealing from her trying to get a restraining order to keep my husband and I are out of the house etc… very scary stuff going on she and I are PO A ‘s for my dad’s medical decisions, he has COPD but is mentally sharp. recently she has told his care givers to cut back on his food, hiding his pills from them and saying things like he doesn’t need to live any longer. I am so afraid for him.
    The hardest part about the disease is that no everyone in her circle sees it, they believe she is very sharp. Yet anyone in the healthcare profession diagnoses immediately. I am exhausted and always upset.

  • Courtney

    My grandmother’s dementia got to the point where we family could not take care of her at home and she is now in an Assisted Living facility with a memory care unit. It’s heartbreaking, but we have been told that a facility like this is better equipped to keep her safe and well taken care of. A family member is there to visit with her everyday. Lately though, she has had a lot of bad days with “out of control” behavior. They call my mom to come there and try to calm her. My thought is that while we are more than willing to drop everything and go to her, shouldn’t they be able to calm her? Also, if she’s having so many bad days with such out of control behavior, doesn’t it seems like somethings not right. I read if the caretakers are well trained and meds are working she shouldn’t be having such difficulty so often.

    • Jake

      I’m a nurse in a dementia facility and alot of the time it takes a while for a new resident to become calm and comfortable in a new environment. It’s very helpful to have a familiar face to help calm them during the transition or even on going. Every resident if different. The staff are well trained but something’s cant be helped. I’m also so glad to hear someone visits everyday. Please don’t stop doing it. Out of 30 residents only 4 have family coming. They offten get forgotten and left alone. It’s so sad

      • Dana

        Why pay to put a loved one through the torture of separation in a facility if the facility expects or needs a familiar face during transition or “even on going”? Most families and caregivers are completely worn out and at the end of their rope when they make or are forced to make such a difficult decision. Perhaps facilities should not be so quick to make a sale then expect to have family members come everyday and do the job that they are paying someone else to do. Seriously, we have had my dad in 4 facilities and was even sent to a neuro-geriatric physc unti – only to be told they don’t have “any miracle drugs” or anything else to help him. It’s just easier to keep him home than drive 2 hours everytime he’s provoked, ignored, mis-read, or whatever else staff do to set him off.

    • Kona Rose

      I “hear” you. There is absolutely nothing wrong for loved ones to take medication to assist with mood disorders which can lead to combative behavior. Dear God, why isn’t the Alzheimers dot net people moderating their own conversations here? They are supposed to be assisting those needing help. #alzheimers

  • Becky

    My dementia mom is 70 years old. It’s a struggle to make her put her clothes on. She yells and curses at us and can be physically combative if we get too close to her. She takes 25 mg of trazadone before bedtime to calm her, but we might need to up the dose. It’s exhausting.

  • Linda

    My name is linda i am 58 in the room with a 83 year old lady she has dementia and screams all the time nonstop talking its a nursing home driving men crazy i tell the nurse she say its nothing she. Can do i am waiting on room change i get. Headaches don’t sleep what can i do

    • JaelZion

      Can you get some good noise-canceling headphones? You could put on some soothing music when you need to sleep.

  • Linda

    My husband has dementia from brain damage he got from a car accident 11 years ago. He is getting steadily worse and I am at my wits end. I know his behavior is not his fault but dealing with it everyday is beyond difficult. I also have a son living with us who has been very ill for over 2 years and I have spent all we had to get him well so we are in debt now. I know eventually I will have to put my husband in a care facility. He is 66 and I am 64 with my own health issues. He talks and follows me all day everyday. He wakes me during the night pulling the sheets off the bed or saying he has to get ready for school or work (just some examples). I am exhausted and dealing with this in a lot of pain. If something upsets him he will carry on all day into the night and I can not talk him down which I used to be able to. He gets very nasty. I have been called things I will not write down. I want to keep him home as long as I can. He has a fear of me “putting him away”. If I have no choice left how do I put him in a facility? Insurance will cover someone coming in to help but not the facility. I can not afford to pay for one. It is now to the point where he will start fights with my son and me which I am used to. I do try to just go with it but I will admit at times I lose it. Can anyone give me any suggestions? I have tried everything but now I do not have the strength anymore .

    • Linda

      Please could someone help me I have had no replies.

      • Becky

        I’m going through the same thing with my mom. If you can afford to have someone come to your house to watch him, it could be beneficial for your health and sanity.

    • lionelburke999

      You trick him into going to the Emergency Room after a doctor’s visit, manage to make them wait the 4-5 hours, then demand the ER Doctor on duty admit him to the hospital for evaluation, then a direct placement to a memory care facility, good luck hun..

    • Anne Stewart

      I’ve been through similar. It wears one down. What I hear is that the medical system, retirement homes and long term care are just “not equipped”. We are no good to other people who need us if we are too exhausted…

    • American Dox

      Get a sitter for night time. Put him in the guest bedroom and have the sitter watch him all night while you sleep in your own room. Then get him put into the “adult day care” so he can feel like he is “going to work” in the morning. While he is at adult day care, you can take care of your home, your shopping, and other things.

    • sharma Shankar

      I had been desperately seeking for a psychiatrist but was told that the local ACT team was “capped” despite an influx of mental health funding I got frustrated. Only within recent time (3 years ago), I started reaching out online for Dementia cure. Eventually, I found a medication that alleviated his symptoms. I read an excellent article about Alzheimer’s/Dementia Disease that my mum too suffered with that is if I chose to use the word Suffer Which I DON’T. You see this condition is really what we make it out to be. Recovery starts with us the caregiver’s. How we think about this condition will determine how much power we chose to give it in our lives but the bottom line is that ZOMO medication works, it is a great relief, Lives matter and what I am encouraging others who have Alzheimer’s/Dementia illness, to begin doing!!. If you really care you’d try anything, mine isn’t so bad a board certified neurologist cured my Mum of Dementia. lack of knowledge was not a problem, and educating was not going to help. Stigma-free really needs more thought. check out the link to know more: [Link Removed]

    • DREW

      hello Linda, God bless you… I am your age and have 9 children and a husband, and I was put away into a nursing home 14 years ago, against my will.but c’est la vie… We all do it we have to do.

      I am paralyzed from the neck down from multiple sclerosis, which I got from being vaccinated.

      I am in South Florida and nursing homes in Florida. Cost $400 a day.nobody could handle that for too long.MY expenses here are paid for by Medicaid, and in order to qualify. I had to get all of my assets into someone else’s name except for my one personal residence.I wasn’t very happy about it, but it was better than losing 400 bucks a day.Medicaid was the only option available to us.

      Here is a bit of free advice and we know what anythingFree is usually worth, but here goes… No one will understand what you are experiencing unless they have gone through it is impossible to have empathy for feeling the pressures and responsibilities unless you have walked in those shoes.

      If you are sleep deprived, you are slowly dragging yourself to illness, and then not only will there be no one to take care of your husband, but you will be beating the bushes to get nursing care for yourself; you absolutely must make arrangements so you can get a solid nights rest because as it stands at this moment, you are not operating with a full deck.Google the effects of sleep deprivation.

      Are you a member of a church? Perhaps until you can make permanent arrangements, church members could volunteer to come watch your husband while you sleep at night.just an idea. You could check with the Alzheimer Society. If there is such a thing, and ask them for options available to you.or perhaps a social worker can advise you.

      I was so adamant about never being put into a nursing home, my husband actually said we were going to Cosco, and literally left me in a lobby to be taken to a room.I was so angry at the deception, but really what was his other option? If I had known ahead of time, I would’ve called attorneys and really made things human being is agreeable to being put out of their home, but sometimes there is nothing left to do but take command of the situation.time heals all wounds,and with dementia patients, it will be forgotten anyway.I think that is a blessing to forget about all the bad things.I am surrounded by people with severe senile dementia, and I am the only person in this facility in my right mind, but they all seem to have peace of mind which is a great blessing.they just seem oblivious to their surroundings and they do get good care and food. I have witnessed some of them become violent with the nurses or anyone when I get frustrated so I understand, and they have a command of obscenities better than a sailor, which is so shocking to see sweet little old ladies carrying on like a house of prostitution. Mme.

      I am on Facebook if you need me… You can check out my Facebook page to find out who I am… There are so many weirdos today always trying to take advantage of anyone under stress needing assistance because they know we are vulnerable and weak and grabbing at straws.…

  • Laurel A

    I am concerned about the verbal abuse and angry outbursts my mother is being forced to endure from my father who is showing increasingly accelerating dementia. The stress and unhappiness is killing her, and his irrational behavior, paranoia and need to control her are alarming. What can we do as adult children? We are trying to move them out of their home and into an assisted living senior facility, which is proving to be futile and is increasing the abuse. Can we ask assistance from Drs to get him committed or…..?

    • Kona Rose

      Start with physician-ordered medication. It may take several trials to get just the right medication for your family member, but once you find it, you will regain more quality of life for everyone involved.

  • American Dox

    I am sick to death of laws, articles, and standards that SHAME people for trying to care for their demented, agitated, aggressive elders. It is laughable that it is illegal to use restraints, particularly chemical restraints. What, exactly, are you supposed to do?
    Here are some examples: Caring for demented father in law in the home: He gets up all night, pees all over the house, tears off his diapers, pees in the closet, goes into the kitchen and turns on the GAS stove, wanders off, and is agitated yells, and will not sleep. You cannot function as a family while dealing with this. Does the family have any sort of right to live and sleep? No, just redirect it, right? That is absolutely laughable.
    So we sent him to live with another family member who has hired full time live-in person to care for him. The live-in cannot handle him. Nobody can handle him. Everyone is at wit’s end.
    Yet all of this BS about how to handle “behaviors.” I say that there is nothing wrong with restraints, and chemical restraints. This protects everyone and allows some people to sleep. But probably not enough.
    We can send him to a nursing home, but truth be told the rest of his body is totally healthy and likely he has 20 more years to live like this. The home is 75K per year. We are looking at a couple of million dollars to warehouse him for the remainder of his life.
    I am going to be completely honest and say that living like that is not a life worth living. I sure hope that I would be able to allow myself to die if I ever became a life changing burden to the people I care about.
    Yes, I am also the only caregiver for both of my real parents, and I also work at a very stressful job to pay for their care. After taxes, I have enough to cover their housing, food, clothing, and I provide their transportation on my days off. At least they are not demented, but they have mental health issues that make caregiving very challenging. And of course even as guardian I cannot “force” those “nasty” mental health meds.
    In the old days, people had a lot of kids to share these burdens. But now one woman might need to take care of two sets of parents (hers and her husbands) and this may happen when still caring for young adult children and paying for college and working and possibly getting asked to babysit for grandkids. There needs to be a better way.

    • Lassie49

      I have alzheimer’s and you terrify me. Chemical restraints? The man could have an infection or other problem throwing his mind off kilter. I think you are right to not be taking care of him, people think we don’t feel how repulsive we are, what burdens, how we are interfering with healthy people’s lives. We do feel it, and I sometimes react badly to it and those who are offended can subject me to being restrained and/or put on anti-psychotics which create worse mental conditions for us. You are in the majority on thinking this is good enough for us.

      • American Dox

        I’m sorry you have Alzheimer’s. You can use a computer, so you are not the one who needs chemical restraints. I can understand why you feel sorry for yourself, I would too if I were in your shoes. Don’t take it personally, but if someone is so demented that they cannot be cared for, it is necessary to restrain them for everyone’s safety.

      • Jake

        Chemical restraints are good for residents who cant understand they need sleep and walk for 10 hours until they pass out and fall over. We just had 2 different residents break their hips because of this.

    • Anne Stewart

      Truly, there needs to be a better way. I have spent so many countless hours trying to figure out a better way and see none. It seems we just wait for them to get worse and then they are easier to “look after” i.e. keep safe – but it is not a life.

    • JaelZion

      My Dad has dementia and will get up at night like your father -in -law. He also has a fixation with the stove and he will leave the house and wander. I take care of him by myself and I found that motion-sensor alarms really helped me with keeping him safe. As soon as he gets up at night and passes by a motion detector, the alarm rings in my room and wakes me up. Then I can go in his room, see what’s going on and catch it early. There’s another right in the path of the stove so that I can tell when he is headed in that direction. They are battery operated and fairly cheap (<$15). It's not a silver bullet but it has helped me enormously. I also keep the burglar alarm on at all times so that if he tries to leave the house through a back door or window, I am notified at once. I also give my Dad Lorazepam (Ativan) when he is particularly combative or agitated. It works like a charm, calms him right down. Ativan might not work for your father-in-law but his doctor should be able to figure out what will. This is super hard, so I understand your frustration. And I must admit that I read the article above and said to myself, "Yeah, that's bullshit", LOL. I mean those are basic techniques but there comes a point where you (and your loved one) are far beyond such measures.

    • Jake

      I’m currently an AIN working in dementia and I couldent agree more. Our facility is restraint free. We aren’t even able to use seatbelts on electric wheelchairs or bed rails. The place is chaos.

  • rebel

    I had to send my husband to an assisted living place in 2014….best thing I could have done…because it was a privately owned facility…if you can …stay out of the medicare sponsored institutions. You can find out more about privately owned facilities through your local department of licensing and regulatory affairs…in michigan it is called lara..and they show reviews of the facilities and their compliance with state regulations. His facility is also christian owned..they are smaller and cheaper then government facilities….At some point you have to “let go” of what was and appreciate what you do have. Memories of what was and trying to get him to reminisce of old times help. Holding hands, kissing his cheek….keep open communication with the owners and the doctor that comes to visit. It is not perfect….his dementia is getting worse…and he is starting to become more angry…I will continue to work with him….but I have to let go of it…and give to God. I take 2 days a week off of seeing him, and let me tell you …I use those days to rest. Also take a bible study class in the fall that goes on till spring…Find something that gives you peace and strength.. If my husband continues to be angry the doctor will have to give him sedatives…I don’t enjoy this prospect…but if it helps everyone I believe its the way to go.

  • Carol Cameron

    Working in the home companion industry, I found a long term client really enjoyed looking at old family pictures and albums. And in the process I learned so much about everyone, it generated new levels of conversation between us.

  • lionelburke999

    Why does this article talk down to and seemingly put the burden on the caretaker, where’s the advocacy for caretakers? And quit with the euphemism “loved one”, it’s so tired the loved one the loved one the loved one..

    • American Dox

      I could not agree more. The caretaker only gets judgement. As though the caretaker has no rights.

  • Anna

    I am a caregiver and have a client with Pick’s Disease. He becomes very hostile when anyone tries to help him. If he slides off the chair (because he slouches) he cannot himself up. Whenever anyone tries to help him up, he becomes angry and fights their efforts to help him. He’ll swear and yell at them.

    He also will not change his padded briefs or put on clean clothes or take a shower. He fights everyone.

    What is the answer to keeping him clean? Or helping himself. We are afraid of his skin breaking down. Do we sedate him? The CNAs and nurses do not seem to know how to manage him and his defensive behavior. How do we care for him when he fights us?

    • Kona Rose

      This entire thread is maddening and sad at the same time. It is the nurse’s responsibility to obtain Dr.s orders for medication to calm any patient down who is combative. If he or she refuses, ask them how you “contact the medical board.” That should light a fire under them to be more responsive to a patient’s and family’s needs. If not, contact the state Medical Board.

  • seencha

    My father and mother are living together. My mother has a glucoma and my father just recently diagnosed with dementia because of stroke. My fathers behavior is dramatically changing. He is sexually ,verbally abusing my blind mom. What should we do…

  • Frustrated and Overwhelmed

    My dad suffered heart failure earlier this year. The clincher was when he coded after anesthesia was administered for a hiatal hernia repair procedure. His heart rate was all the way down to 34 BPM in the presurgical suite and the anesthesiologist was quite alarmed by that number. So, they did an ECG screening and it turned out Dad had bradycardia with a ventral arrhythmia. An electrocardiologist was consulted and he said “It’s a low heart rate, but it’s not serious enough to postpone the procedure. I’ll attend the procedure and monitor the patient’s heart rate throughout.” So, the anesthesia is administered, dad’s heart stops and the electrocardiologist performed an emergency pacing procedure. Dad was wheeled out of the surgical suite to the ICU where he remained for the next four days. He is now 100% paced and it isn’t one of those MRI-friendly pacemakers either. So, obviously they couldn’t go through with the hernia repair under the circumstances. Prior to that day, however, Dad had suffered for months prior to the discovery of his heart failure. He was convinced it was his hiatal hernia causing his breathing problems, but I knew better. Dad would get so mad at me when I told him his hernia wasn’t severe enough to cause respiratory obstruction to such a severe extent. I mean, all of his abdominal organs would have to be in his chest cavity to cause that kind of respiratory distress for months on end. It was a Type 3 Hiatal Hernia. So, we had gone to the urgent care of his hospital network and the first two times we went they diagnosed him with the Flu and told him to go home and rest. The third time we went, they diagnosed him with Asthma and gave him an inhaler script and sent him home. The flu? Without so much as running a test? Asthma? Seriously? So, from October 2017 until May 2018 Dad could barely walk five steps without stopping to catch his breath or blink out the dizziness. He often became dizzy and fainted simply by sitting in his recliner. He’d wake up in a panic being unable to breathe and would then be afraid to go back to sleep. For all intents and purposes, he was slowly dying thanks to being constantly misdiagnosed.

    Now, as of November 2018 he is a completely different person. He either comes across as gentle and sweet or mean as hell and accusing anyone and everyone of being out to get him, stealing from him, selling his stuff, or abusing him because he’s a veteran and a conservative. He’s inventing stories about celebrities coming to visit him or telling anyone who will listen that a book he wrote has been published and will be out at the end of the year. He says someone drove their truck through his yard, when that never happened. He’s imagined that he has doctor appointments that he doesn’t actually have, and once he drove out to a bank in town and said he had an appointment to meet his financial advisor, and got very upset when they told him they had no record of that appointment; also, the person he told them he was there to see didn’t exist at their branch. He says unkind things about people in public, sometimes too loudly. The latest development is his accusing me of selling his diecast metal airplane collection. All the boxes are there, he can see them with his own eyes and he’ll point at the boxes and say, “Those are the boxes of airplanes that you sold.”…but they’re full and accounted for. Then he’ll admit he was wrong and less than an hour or two later he’s unplugging the internet and waits for me to come in common room to find out why (I’m a full-time student completing an online degree in Medical Coding). So, when I come into the room he pounces on me from the hallway and says, “You sold my airplanes!!” I’m still learning how to deal with all of this and it really hurts my feelings when he accuses me of doing something like that…and then the names he calls me. I’m not sure I can take much more of this.

    I’m dealing with my own anxiety and depression diagnosis and am on medication to manage both. This has challenged me to my highest limits and I don’t know what to do. I live with him because he can’t live by himself and he tells me to get out of his house because I sold his airplanes. When I suggested doing an inventory and comparing that inventory to his records he blows up and flatly REFUSES to cooperate. This has been going on for the last two days and it’s a new development. In the past two days he’s asked me more than a dozen times if he needs to buy a turkey, when he went with me to the store to help me pick one out…and I paid for it along with many other groceries for the house. I’m in school full-time, but because of these radical changes in his behavior I’ve fallen behind in all but two of my classes (I’m in 5 classes presently).

    I found this article by researching how to deal with an belligerent and accusatory dementia patient. Many of the behaviors described in the article I’m witnessing and experiencing in my dad. Dad’s doctors are useless and don’t seem to know what to call his condition. They say it’s ‘mild cognitive impairment’. HA! Mild? They should live with him for a week!!

    I’m glad I found this comments section, because I don’t feel so alone anymore. My Mom passed away in 2010 from cancer related complications and my brother is fully disabled with paranoid schizophrenia. It’s literally just me taking care of Dad. Does anyone have any advice on how to remain calm when someone is in your face, screaming at you and calling you a ‘Tool’ and a ‘Loser’ and a “Liar” because they’re so convinced that you’ve done something you’ve clearly not done? Thanks for reading and thanks for any advice. It’s most appreciated.

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