How Can Alzheimers and Dementia Caregivers Deal with Difficult Behavior | Alzheimer's Reading Room: It takes two people to argue and the caregiver has the ability to not argue where the person who has Alzheimer's will not have the same amount of self control.
I have found it most helpful to say things like "you are right, you don't need help but I will feel better if I help you"; things like that but with as few words as possible. Too many words causes confusion.
As for the negative "words and attitude", you will have to let this kind of roll off your back.
Her ability to comprehend "negative words vs positive words" may be very diminished and Alzheimer's causes the person to lose the ability to have empathy in relation to others in the same way you and I can understand that our words and actions effect others either positively or negatively.
The negative behavior is generally not a purposeful behavior but for some folks it is a long term habit of negative thinking.
Where they used to have the internal filters and control to not say the first thing on their mind they now don't have those filters and you never know what might come out!
Examples of this are people beginning to use curse words when they never have before in front of their loved ones and now they use very colorful language.
Rapid changes in her mood, going from happy to sad to angry in a flash of eye can be very difficult to understand. It is called "labile" behavior and it is a loss of emotional control.
The key here is to match your response with the emotion that she is exhibiting. She may not realize that she is acting like she is "angry" or "sad". So if she is "angry" about something you can say "I'm sorry I made you angry". Or, "sorry that made you angry I'll make sure that doesn't happen again" (I've accepted responsibility for many many many things that I had nothing to do with over the years but at that moment you can see the person's face lighten and the "mood" will change.
The labile behavior is not necessarily caused by anything in the environment it simply causes rapid mood swings. There are some medications that may help for mood stabilization.
I am not an advocate for use of medications unless absolutely necessary.
It is not comfortable for the person who has Alzheimer's to go through their days angry, upset, anxious, or frightened.
If it was me who had the illness and if everything else my family has tried to help me live in good moments has not worked and I was still anxious most of the day and night and frightened...I would tell the doctor "give me something...I am miserable".
I hope this information helps you and your mother along your journey.
Jennifer Scott has been in healthcare since 1984, working with a variety of people with disabilities. She has delivered numerous speaking and educational presentations about Alzheimer’s disease and how to care for those suffering with dementia.