How to diffuse arguments?

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by Gill W, Feb 1, 2007.

  1. Gill W

    Gill W Registered User

    Jan 31, 2007
    190
    Co. Durham
    I wonder whether anyone can help me with the issue of hallucinations.
    What is the best way to deal with issues that arise from them? Should we try explaining to Gran that it's the illness that she has that makes her think these things are real, or should we just let her go on imagining that these things ARE real & try to change the subject?

    Some examples:
    Gran often has 'visitors' in the form of two little boys she believes to be her 2 sons, (who are now obviously in their 60's, Gran is almost 86.) She has gone to the lengths of making food for them before now (months ago before she was as bad as she is) & expressing dismay that when she's returned to the living room with the food that they've gone & she doesn't know where. She asks who is caring for them? Where will they be? And how do we know for sure that they're getting fed & going to school?

    She hears voices of 'grown men' downstairs on a night, after she has gone to bed. They disturb her & prevent her from sleeping. On lots of occasions, the living room light has been on when we've got there, she tells us 'those men left it on when they left, whenever they did'. Its clear she's forgotten to turn it off, but she won't accept it.

    She's always asking mum for her pension back. Mum went with her to the bank at the beginning of the diagnosis system & got a bank card for herself so that she had access to Gran's money for her at this stage in the game. Mum is so honest, & always tells one of us that she's got money from the bank for Gran, but Gran keeps demanding nastily that she wants her pension back please, its her money & she's entitled to it. Mum would quite happily not make the weekly trip to the bank for money to give her but Gran doesn't venture out now. She has to be taken to the hairdresser that she's used for 11 years, because she can't find her way to it anymore (someone's moved it, she's moved to a different shop, although its still where it always was!)

    She accused the one-time cleaner of stealing the hoover bag. She doesn't have a hoover with a bag, we bought her a Dyson years ago. When we asked her to describe the hoover bag, she was describing her shopping trolley, the bag of which was different because she was given a new one when her old one dropped to bits. The arguments over this got very heated & she just would not accept the truth.

    There are endless little examples of the arguments that arise, & I'd like to know if anyone has any little tricks up their sleeve to deflect these arguments. My aunt is a great instigator of the arguments in that she will always tell Gran that the little boys don't exist, there are no men in the living room at night, these men don't eat her bread, etc. This tends to make Gran much more agitated & angry, she casts filthy looks around the room & accuses us all of making it all up in order that we can get her out of the house & get the money from it. My aunt will ask Gran why she's done the odd thing she's just done; what she meant by the load of gobbledeegook she just came out with. She asked her why there was a jumper on the radiator the other week, Gran couldn't answer. She didn't know why it was there. She didn't know who'd put it there. Obviously Gran had put it there but couldn't remember when or why. My aunt will insist on asking who, when, why, what and wherefore of Gran when the poor thing doesn't have the memory to know the answers. We've tried telling her to just leave it all alone, but its like talking to a wall.

    Are there any ways of deflecting a forthcoming argument? If we don't give Gran some sort of answer to a situation, she won't let it drop. She won't engage in any further conversation until her's is answered. If we agree to her 'visions' are we fuelling the fire for further trouble? If we try to tell her they are 'visions' she goes bonkers with us & we have an argument. How do we deal with this? It makes caring for her so hard.
     
  2. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland

    Hi Gill

    You must be having a terrible time, trying to cope with your gran without much help from SS.

    I've no personal experience of hallucinations, but I do know that arguing does not help. If your gran says she saw two little boys, she believes she saw them. The only thing you can do is go along with it, and try to persuade her that they have now gone home.

    The exception to this is when she accuses people of stealing, and if you can't persuade her it isn't true, you'll have to talk to the person concerned, and explain.

    Your aunt certainly isn't helping the situation. Arguing will certainly make your gran more agitated. Does your aunt not acept that your gran has AD? Maybe she's just trying to make her 'normal' again!

    If you've tried talking to your aunt, I don't know what else to suggest. Is there another relative she might listen to?

    AS has a factsheet on hallucinations,

    http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/Caring...a/Unusual_behaviour/advice_hallucinations.htm

    and I'm sure you'll get some replies from people who have experienced them.

    Love,
     
  3. Gill W

    Gill W Registered User

    Jan 31, 2007
    190
    Co. Durham
    #3 Gill W, Feb 1, 2007
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2007
    Hi Hazel

    I'm just fed up with the constant frisk of all this, mum comes home stressed to death more because of my aunt than my poor Gran. Thank you for your input.

    To be honest, my aunt is a bit of a control freak. A few weeks ago, mum was doing the usual with Gran's bread, taking two slices from the loaf in the freezer, wrapping it in cling film, then a bread bag to go in the fridge (odd but it's the way Gran likes it done!) & in comes my aunt & literally takes it out of her hands & did it for her. She then proceeded to demand from Gran why this rigmarole is necessary, & nearly leapt on Gran when her reply was 'it's for those men that come, they eat it'. It took all my strength & assertiveness to propel my aunt from the room & demand that she leave it alone. Following that she took the hoover off me when I started to have a bit of a clean up for Gran. She totally ignored my protests & dirty looks, I just can't fathom the woman out!

    I've tried to explain to her that its pointless arguing, but she insists that we should be truthful with her & let her know its all baloney as she calls it. And you're right, Gran truly believes she's seen & heard these people. Nothing we say detracts her from that. She can let it drop one day but its a hot topic the next time you got back. It's like "ding ding - round 3!"


    I printed all the fact sheets from this site when Gran was first diagnosed. Gave them to mum to read, & where did they end up? At my aunt's house. Had to print more for mum to read. Yesterday I did some of a virtual tour of the brain that I found? to show my aunt, so that she can really get an idea of exactly how much of Gran's brain is now useless to her.

    Mum & I are kind of leaning towards just going along with things, even trying to make jokes out of things to diffuse a tense atmosphere, just thought I'd see what the general concensus was with other carers.

    Today's laugh was that Gran can't remember Grandad dying 11 years ago, & she's decided he's away having an affair with a woman up the street somewhere. It nearly had mum in tears but I'm afraid I had to laugh!
     
  4. Kayla

    Kayla Registered User

    May 14, 2006
    621
    Kent
    Hallucinations

    Dear Gill,
    My Mum had very disturbing hallucinations and it is a most distressing thing to experience or witness. We had to make an emergency appointment with the doctor when she thought that my Dad had come in through the front door and disappeared upstairs. He had been dead for five years but Mum had forgotten.
    I think some of the hallucinations are actually continuations of dreams and if explained as a nightmare or dream, it may not seem so bad.
    Also programmes on television can stimulate the imagination and Mum sometimes thinks that what happened in a film was real. She has sometimes been reminded of real events by a TV programme, for instance The Trooping of the Colour reminded her of when we were there 30 years ago and she remembered details that I'd forgotten about.
    Mum talked about seeing "little dark men" on her lounge carpet and I think this could have been some kind of visual disturbance. She was seeing dark blobs and thought they were people. She couldn't describe what the "men" looked like or whether they were wearing any coloured clothes.
    My Mum never actually saw the family of boys who she said were living in her spare bedroom, but she heard them. In fact I think she may have thought that the noise of water in the central heating pipes and the sound of the next door neighbours going up and downstairs on uncarpeted floors were people in her own house.
    There is no point in contradicting someone who has hallucinations, because that makes things worse. Try saying that it was just a dream or something on the television, or just listen and reassure them that it is nothing to worry about. I don't think it is realistic to leave someone who has hallucinations in the house on their own at night. My Mum got really frightened and distressed, but was much happier when she moved into a very good family run Care Home. Regular medication can make a real difference and although Mum still seems to have hallucinations, they are under control and mainly harmless. Someone is always around to help her.
    Unfortunately Mum broke her hip and is now in a Nursing Home, but I have wondered whether it would have been much better to have moved her into a Care Home at an earlier stage, as she really seemed to enjoy the company and lack of worries about the house. She got to the stage of worrying about every little detail and getting stressed out about things. She thought we had moved things or changed things, but never accused us of taking anything from her.
    I hope you can find ways of reaching agreement with other members of the family, so that you all deal with the problems in the same way.
    Thinking of you,
    Best wishes,
    Kayla
     
  5. Gill W

    Gill W Registered User

    Jan 31, 2007
    190
    Co. Durham
    Hi Kayla

    Thanks for that. I know hallucinating is a common thing with dementia, & it wasn't long after diagnosis that Gran started to reveal them to us. We've reassured her that no one can get in the house at night, but it still goes on.

    I would dearly love for Gran to be in residential care. I know she would find it hard after 50 years in the same house, but it has to be better for her than spending the nights on her own. SS in her area are adamant that she doesn't fit the criteria for residential care, & they have said that because she wouldn't agree to it, it wouldn't happen anyway. It amazes me that they can take the word of someone who has realistically lost their mind as gospel & deny them the care they need. A nursing home near me state they would take Gran, but because she lives in a different SS catchment area it would need a referral from SS up there to SS down here. Its quite ridiculous.

    I do think that one day very soon either my mum will totally break down & be unable to continue caring for Gran or there will be an almighty bust up with my aunt, who thinks she knows best on everything. I think my aunt deludes herself into thinking she can gradually talk some logic into Gran, which is clearly not the case. She will not leave Gran alone, she has to 'nit-pick' as we call it. She does not have the same kind of relationship with Gran as mum does, her methods of 'caring' are so much less gentle than mum's. I sometimes wonder if she resents that & tries to make herself out to be the one who cares & knows best.

    If I could just get her to stop prodding at Gran & asking STUPID questions & causing all the upset.......
     
  6. Claire

    Claire Registered User

    Mar 31, 2004
    88
    Coventry
    Hi Gill

    Mum went through a stage of hallucinating too - she would often talk about the "kids in the corner" who were misbehaving/stealing/frightening her. It seemed to be particularly bad at night. I soon learned that there was no point in trying to persuade her there was no-one there, it just added to her distress. Another thing she did was talk to her own reflection in the mirror - "her friend". on several occasions I went to her room and "threw out" the intruders, so that she was able to sleep. I think the hallucinations were a phase - she doesn't have them now, athough of course she has deteriorated since then. I did find that once she went into a care home she seemed to relax - it was as if she stopped fighting the disease. It has been much better for her, and although she lives in a small world of her own, it seems to be a happy one, by and large.

    Take care

    Claire
     
  7. Gill W

    Gill W Registered User

    Jan 31, 2007
    190
    Co. Durham
    Thanks Claire

    It seems to be a general concensus to ignore them & not fight against them. Mum & I try to do this, but we have my aunt coming in from a completely different angle. Methinx I'm gonna have to show her these replies, so that she can see for herself from other carers that we're going down the right road by humouring Gran & not arguing.

    Many thanks
    We'll see how things go.
    Gill
    X
     
  8. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    1,342
    My mother seemed quite willing to believe me when I told her she'd been dreaming or imagining things, but then she only reached the early stage.

    Lila
     
  9. Nell

    Nell Registered User

    Aug 9, 2005
    1,170
    Australia
    A letter to your Aunt

    Dear Aunty,

    I'm sorry I address you as Aunty but your niece obviously has respected your privacy and not named you. First may I say how sorry I am for you, your sister, your niece and all your family that your dear mother is going down this awful road. It is a truly terrible disease.

    Secondly may I praise all of you for your continued support and care of your mother. It is not easy to cope when this is happening to someone we love.

    Your niece says you find your mother's hallucinations very frustrating and I know (from personal experience) how devastating it is caring for a family member with hallucinations. Fortunately for me this person did recover, but there is no recovery from Alzheimer's.

    I think you will find that is accepted by everyone (including medical personnel) that you simply cannot "fight" hallucinations. They are real to the person having them and even though they are ridiculous to us, they simply cannot be denied. Every time you deny a hallucination you make the sufferer even more afraid - because they no longer know who to trust - their own perceptions of the world around them, or the daughter they love. How terrible this must be.

    When my husband was very ill some years ago he had shocking hallucinations during recovery (due to medication) and afterwards (when he was better and no longer suffering them) he told me "I now believe they were hallucinations but only because you say they were, and you don't lie to me. As far as I'm concerned they are still totally real."

    The best way to cope is to ignore (if possible), or "go along" with the hallucinations. I can imagine at this stage you are frowning and shaking your head. In most cases of mental illness we are told NOT to collude with fantasies, but is different with AD. Also, when you have been taught by your parents to "tell the truth" it seems very wrong to start "lying" by agreeing with what is nonsense.

    But it is very important for your mother (and you, and your family) that your Mum be upset as little as possible now. If she sees people who aren't there, thinks things have happened that haven't or tells fantastic tales, it is best to just go along with her. The Director at Mum's Nursing home says "If they think they are catching a bus to Bondi, catch it with them". By this she means, if necessary, enter into their fantasy world. You don't have to encourage it, but if she brings up hallucinations don't fight them.

    After a while you might even be able to laugh a little. Some people on TP have related stories about their loved ones that are sad at one level (because they show how their loved ones minds are failing) but quite funny at another.

    It can break our hearts to see this decline in our nearest and dearest and I think all of us dread seeing it happening and hate it. But we must realise it is part of the disease. Your mother cannot help it - any more than she could help it if she suffered pain from a broken leg. To constantly fight it is to set up an atmosphere of distrust, argument and disharmony. Your Mum needs peace now, and you will benefit from it too - despite the heartache.

    May you and your sister, your niece and other family members find ways to support your motther and each other in this terrible journey. Please know there are many of us doing the journey too (none willingly!) and we send you our best caring wishes for your strength to continue.

    Thinking of you,
    Nell
     
  10. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    Nell

    What a very helpful post. I've no experience of dealing with hallucinations, but if the time should come..........

    Moderators, could this be copied to the resource forum? I think it's worth preserving.

    Thank you nell.

    Love
     
  11. Amy

    Amy Registered User

    Jan 4, 2006
    3,453
    Thanks Skye, I have had a go.
    Helen
     
  12. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    Thanks Helen, well done!

    Love
     
  13. Lonestray

    Lonestray Registered User

    Aug 3, 2006
    236
    Hereford
    Hi Gill, My wife started having what are called hallucinations some six or seven years ago. My take on them were as Kayla put it. I just went with the flow and asked her to discribe two girls she said were down on our land. They were real to her as she could tell me what they were wearing, and when I asked about their footwear she was correct: because they standing in tall grass she said she could'nt see! I chose to believe that messages to the brain from the eye took longer to transmit. In other words she might see someone or something that might take time to register after the person was gone. However there was one evening we were sat outside, she was staring off into the distance:
    "What are you looking at?"
    "A big fluffy dog"
    "Where?"
    "It's over there" pointing to the horizon.
    It took me some time to make out the shape of a large dog, formed by a number of trees against the skyline!
    Another time we were walking around the land with one of our G'sons (19yrs) when she asked what are those two men doing on our land. Turning to the G'son: "Shall we ask them? come on." He looked in the air and started whistling, I've since reminded him of that day. Best to go with the flow. Good luck and God Bless. Padraig
     
  14. Charlyparly

    Charlyparly Registered User

    Nov 26, 2006
    221
    Lancashire
    Hi Gill,

    My advice? Go along with everything your Gran says and (at the risk of sounding awful) go as far as to actually enjoy the fun of it all.

    I have said more "goodnights" and "do as your tolds" to invisible pre-school children who have an 87 year old mother, and have welcomed invisible customers into the "post office" which looked just like a bedroom.

    I have been a Captain in the Navy, a lady named Margaret and an RAF Officer, to name a few.

    Some have said they think this is cruel and unkind, but I disagree completely.

    Imagine if someone told you that there was no such thing as a forum called "Talking Point" and said that you must have been dreaming or tried offering you suggestions about other things this "Talking Point" could be??

    You would drag them to the pc, bring up the page and say "look - there it is!" so imagine how annoyed you would then feel if they looked at your monitor and told you - "there's nothing there "

    That is how your Gran sees things. She knows that someone is coming into the house and whipping her bread - and she knows they keep leaving lights on and that the cleaner did actually nick her hoover bag. :mad:

    When she asks questions that you know are going to send you down a rough road (such as why your Mum has her pension book) you could try saying that both you and your Mum thought it was a much better idea for your Mum to keep hold of it until you had sorted out who was taking her bread.

    If ever she gets anxious over who is caring for her sons etc, tell her that they are at school and you are going to pick them up and give them tea so she need not worry.

    You could even use the voices of the men downstairs to your advantage by telling her they are friends of yours who you asked to keep an eye out for the phantom bread burglars!

    I'd love to know whether you did show your Aunt any replies?

    Charlyparly :)
     
  15. Gill W

    Gill W Registered User

    Jan 31, 2007
    190
    Co. Durham
    Hi everyone,

    Thank you for so many replies. You've all reinforced what mum & I thought was best.

    Mum just tries to avoid the subject if she can, but she sometimes finds this difficult with my aunt picking in the background. She will try to make eye contact with my aunt to say 'Don't go there' but it doesn't work somtimes.

    I'm printing this thread as we speak, in the hope that mum will show it to my aunt, and will let you all know what the reaction was if any.

    Thank you all for your support. I wish I'd joined this forum sooner now. Been talking about doing it for ages, just did the old thing of never getting round to it!
    So glad I did, I'll be able to work things through with mum a bit better as each problem raises its ugly head.

    Thank you all for you input & support. It's hugely apprecated.

    Gill
    X
     
  16. Gill W

    Gill W Registered User

    Jan 31, 2007
    190
    Co. Durham
    Hi,

    Just wanted to say that I printed this thread off yesterday & managed to discuss it with mum. I read out the 'letter to Aunty' & don't mind admitting that by the time I'd finished both mum & I were in tears. I could barely continuing reading for choking on the lump in my throat!

    Mum took the whole thing away with her & said she'd have a read of it all when she had some peace to do so. She was delighted that so many people replied & that we seem to have a bolt hole where we can attempt to solve issues as we come across them. Fingers crossed she shows the replies to my Aunt!

    Mum said to pass on her thanks to everyone who's helped out with suggestions & ideas. So Thanks everyone, for everything. I'm so glad I joined this forum, I knew it should have been done ages ago!

    Gill
    X
     
  17. Gill W

    Gill W Registered User

    Jan 31, 2007
    190
    Co. Durham
    Hi all,

    Quick update.

    Mum read & took in all suggestions on this thread. She applied the theory of agreeing to whatever Gran said, & was delighted to tell me that Gran accepted what she'd said. Gran had apparently been 'out on Monday', she went 'there, you know where I mean', & it was a lovely modern place, very clean, tidy, etc. but she 'wasn't half pleased to get home again'. Mum agreed with her & added the comment that 'it's always nice to get home, isn't it? To put your feet up & get nice & warm & slurp a nice cuppa'. Gran smiled, agreed, & that was the end of that!

    Whilst mum was engaging in this 'conversation' she said she was getting some very strange looks from my aunt. She proceeded to inform my aunt of all the suggestions we'd had, & that it would make life easier for everyone if they both went along with suggestions, as this one had worked? My aunt then turned on my mum, stating that she wasn't the one who kept filling up with tears & appeared to be struggling to cope with it all, she was managing very nicely the way she was thank you! Mum was about to state that it would be for Gran's benefit that they undertook these changes, but the look on my aunt's face put her off. Mum said she definitely didn't like having any suggestions put to her.

    Mum's decided that she'll use the tactics herself, & see if Gran continues to respond in such a manner. We're both hoping that if my aunt should see the peace that reigns after dealing with things this way, she will follow suit & copy.

    We can but hope...........

    Gill
    x
     
  18. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    Hi Gill

    Glad the tactics appear to be working. I'm sure if you and your Mum persevere, without getting into arguments with your aunt, she'll eventually get the message. At least you and your mum will have an easier relationship with your gran.

    Love,
     
  19. Gill W

    Gill W Registered User

    Jan 31, 2007
    190
    Co. Durham
    Hello Hazel,

    I think that mum took much pleasure from telling my aunt that I'd joined this forum, and explaining that I was attempting to be CONstructive rather than DEstructive in helping Gran. She said there wasn't much of a response from my aunt, which she took to mean that if things aren't instigated by her, she deems them unworthy?

    I'm continuing to work my way through the threads on here, to back mum up even more. I could tell by her face that she'd found the suggestions from everyone had worked & made her life that day just that little bit easier. And if it works for mum, I'm happy with that.

    Had a good chat with a friend of mine yesterday who's worked with EMI patients, ended up in tears again with it all, but I think thats good therapy really. I have to try to support mum, along with my elder sister, as we don't have my dad around anymore to be the backbone that he used to be for her. We miss him badly at the moment, but we soldier on.

    I think joining this forum will prove to be one of the best things I've ever done, and I'm so grateful for everyone's input.

    Thank you all

    Gill
    X
     
  20. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    Hi Gill

    OK, now you've made me cry!. What a lovely daughter you are.

    Keep posting, and let us know how you get on.

    Love,
     

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