Sep 6, 2014

One Simple Way to Diffuse an Angry Alzheimer's Patient

So how do you diffuse a person living with Alzheimer's when they get angry because you went out, or on a vacation?

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

How to Diffuse an Angry Alzheimer's Patient
Ever go out or go away only to return to an angry person living with dementia?

Are you sometimes afraid to go out, or leave your loved one with another person, because you are afraid they will be angry when you get back.

No doubt about it, an angry Alzheimer's patient can make us feel horrible.

We feel horrible even though the reality of the situation is clear and simple - we are giving everything we have to give to a person who needs us desperately.

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So how do you diffuse a person living with Alzheimer's when they get angry because you went out, or on a vacation?

One time I left my mother with our good friends Jim and Ruth and I went out for the evening. I was supposed to make it home by 11PM but I did not get home until 12:10 AM.

Ruth was already watching for me and when I started to walk up to the door she came out and told me that Dotty was really angry.

I said to Ruth, don't worry I'll take care of it.

I went blazing in the door. Sure enough, Dotty had the angry look she gets on her face, and her arms crossed on her chest. She started with the usual -- "Where the he** have you been" - routine.

As you know I always suggest meeting meanness with an equal and opposite reaction so here is what I did.

Laughing and smiling all the way in and when I finally got to Dotty I said,
"I have been home waiting for you to come home".

Where have you been? I thought you would never come home, so I came to get you.
At this point, Dotty didn't know what to think. She actually did looked confused for a bit.

Meanwhile, I continued to laugh and smile.

At this point, Jim and Ruth get all excited about the change in Dotty's look and demeanor. By this point Dotty is smiling and all happy - not acting like a junkyard dog anymore.

So we all start talking and being all happy and guess what. We didn't get home until 1:10 AM.

So here is the key to difficult situations like the one above.

Come back home like you have never been gone. Walk in that door with a big smile and big happiness. Don't be afraid.

Change the dynamic by asking the person with Alzheimer's what they have been doing. And then, grab them up and go do something.

Act like they are holding you back, Act like you are waiting for them.

Reverse the dynamic. Instead of them being angry because you have been gone, how about you make it seem like they have been gone from you! And now you want to get the show on the road so to speak.

Think positive, meet anger with a smile, and a happy sound in your voice (enthusiasm),

Don't forget. Persons living with Alzheimer's really can't remember what just happened. But they can remember "right now".

So why not be happy "right now" and take them into that right now with you right now.

Right Now

PS - I once went away for 2 days. As soon as I returned home I put on a pair of shorts and a t shirt. Then I went to get Dotty. I blasted in that time by asking Dotty when she was coming home. I told her that Harvey and I had been sitting around waiting for her and he told me to go and get her and bring her home. Dotty smile and said, let me eat my breakfast first.

She never said a word about me being gone for 2 days.

Advice and Insight into Alzheimer's and Dementia

Bob DeMarco is the Founder and Editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized influencer, speaker, and expert in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community worldwide. The ARR Knowledge Base contains more than 4,850 articles. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
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