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How to Handle Complaints From Your Loved One With Alzheimer’s

Your loved one with Alzheimer’s will have legitimate complaints, and some imagined ones. All of your loved one’s complaints should be taken seriously. Handling the concerns and criticisms of your loved one with Alzheimer’s requires both sensitivity and common sense. Sometimes there will be no way to resolve an issue, especially if the problem is not real. There are ways to deal with these issues and here are a few helpful tips:

• Listen carefully to what they are telling you. It may not make sense at first, but some complaints are warning signs of abuse, or neglect. Never brush off a complaint. You should investigate and determine a course of action.

• If your loved one is living in a care facility, such as an Alzheimer’s assisted living, speak with the staff to determine whether there are any issues. It could be something straightforward, for example: your relative does not like the food, however, this can escalate into a larger problem if your relative stops eating. Work with the staff to resolve these issues. Constant communication is key between you and the Alzheimer’s assisted living staff.

• No one wants to give up their freedom and move to an assisted living facility, and there may be numerous complaints from your loved one during this transition time. Unless there are genuine concerns about neglect or abuse, there is no reason to move your relative to another assisted living because they complain. Seek assistance from the staff to support your relative in adjusting to their new surroundings.

• It can be upsetting to the family when your loved one complains endlessly about a petty issue, or something that can’t be changed. Repetition of thoughts, feelings and phrases is common in people with Alzheimer’s. Realize that your relative is feeling helpless, and this is their way of asking for help. They probably don’t remember that they have brought up the same issue on a number of occasions.

• Bring in another person to deal with the issue. Show that you are concerned enough about the problem to seek assistance. Sometimes a third party can see things more clearly. A family friend, a minister, priest, rabbi or other religious leader may be able to comfort your loved one and address their concerns.

• Make an effort and put your words into action. If your loved one complains about being ignored, make an effort to do something memorable, such as planning a celebration. It doesn’t have to be someone’s birthday to celebrate their life. Celebrate it now, everyone deserves a party!

• Even if your loved one’s complaints seem unreasonable or unfounded, listen and respond. Sometimes they are just confused, lonely or depressed and need to feel that someone cares.

Treat your loved one with Alzheimer’s the same way you would with any other family member. Don’t be condescending or dismissive. Validate their feelings and let them know that you take their concerns seriously. Think about the times you have had complaints that were not dealt with. Why should your loved one feel any differently?  Keep that in mind, and remember that your loved one may not act the same as they used to, but their feelings and needs are just as valid.

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