When someone has dementia in one form or another, they may say some phrases over-and-over again. Or they may become confused and start stating unfounded claims. Yet part of dementia care is knowing how to reply when these things happen as Alzheimer’s communication is still important. So below are some examples of what a person with dementia in a communications breakdown may say and how to lovingly diffuse the situation.
My money is missing! The new caregiver you hired must have taken it when I was sleeping! Now you know that this isn’t true, but that the disease is telling the person that this is what has had to have happened. The person’s mind is trying to fill in the memory gaps that the dementia is making when he or she may have, as an example, hidden the money. This is called honest lying or confabulation. This is something that the person honestly believes has happened, and you will not convince your loved one otherwise.
You can say, “I’m sorry your money is missing. Can we check around the house in case it was misplaced? I’d hate to accuse someone of theft if it was just put in a safe place.” Fortunately, dementia sufferers often hide money or valuables in the same place.
Your loved one is repeating the same phrase, question or action repeatedly. This isn’t a harmful behavior, but can cause stress to the caregiver.
You can help by responding to the emotion or thought behind the action. So try to find the reason for the behavior and then redirect it. Here, repeated questions on a restaurant may signal hunger; as an example, so offering a meal may be a solution. You can also try engaging the loved one in an activity to help as a distraction. Or provide the information that your loved one is questioning about. You can repeat it several times or write it down so that the answer is there where it can be seen.
Loud outbursts when in public; saying or doing things that are embarrassing. The problem is that the disease is affecting your loved one’s impulse control literally stripping away the filter which causes us to censor what comes out of our mouths.
You can distract your loved one with a trip to the restroom, or a different part of the store or area where you are. Once out of sight, it’s usually out of mind.
Once you know what is causing the issue, then you can come up with a solution to calm down the situation. We gave only a few examples of the issues that may happen and you are free to adapt them to your personal communication situations. Always remember to stay patient and calm when communicating with your loved once.