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Your tips: dealing with anger or cruel comments

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HarrietD

Administrator
Staff member
Apr 29, 2014
5,527
London
Every issue our magazine includes real life experiences, and they want to hear from you. This time, they're asking what advice would you give about handling someone's anger or cruel comments when their dementia makes them behave in this way?

Is there anything you've found that has worked for you? What do you think would be helpful for other people who are caring for loved ones to know?

Please feel free to add your comments below, and they may be featured in the next issue of the magazine.

Thanks everyone :)
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
71,113
Kent
It`s a tough question @HarrietD

Anger and cruel comments were where I made most of my mistakes.

I was either deeply affected emotionally or withdrew, sometimes for days at a time. I wouldn`t want to repeat some of the comments my husband made to me they were so hurtful. I know pre dementia he would have been horrified to think he could ever have said such things.
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
12,201
South coast
I realised that my OH would become very angry if I said no to him as he thought that I was trying to control him.
A tip that I was told was to not say the word "no" when replying, but to start the sentence with the word "Yes" and then say what I needed to say - even though I was actually saying no.
eg yes, we can do that this afternoon (when he wants to do it now)
yes, you need to use your walker when you go outside (when he wants to go out without it)
yes, your pants have to go on first

Its not easy to do, especially on the hop and sometimes I say "No, you cant do that" without thinking, but if you can manage it, it does seem to help.
 

karaokePete

Registered User
Jul 23, 2017
5,447
N Ireland
The first few times I was the object of rage or cruel comments I took it to heart and felt very low, even resentful. Telling myself that it was the disease talking helped a little but not enough.

I developed a tactic that some may dismiss as too simple, trite even. However, I have used the tactic with great success so it works for us; I even used it earlier today when my wife was raging about something. I just told her that I knew what she needed, to which I could see her rally for an onslaught, and then opened my arms and said "a hug". As always the hug was accepted and the mood changed in an instant.

I developed the technique because I'm convinced that rage and cruel comments are often a manifestation of the anxiety and confusion felt by a person with dementia and believed that the comfort of a hug would alleviate some of those issues.

My wife has yet to reach the advanced stage so my simple technique may not always work. However, I will continue to deploy the technique for as long as possible as it helps both of us at present.
 

AliceA

Registered User
May 27, 2016
2,810
Both are wonderful helpful methods, I do think so often it is fear and anxiety that sometimes is the cause. My 92 year old neighbour's husband is accusing her of going with other men. She is such a gentle soul, she seemed relieved when I assured her it was the illness not the man she loved. That in fact it was quite common.
Fear of being a alone but expressed in ways that hurt to the core.
Personally I try to nip things in the bud, I prune everything to give full attention, I slow down, I quieten down, I reassure how much I love him. Everything is put on hold. Tiring and exhausting. Yes.
 

Palerider

Registered User
Aug 9, 2015
1,633
North West
I care for my mum and our relationship over the years has been a good one. I was fine until the moods began and she would get angry and make comments I found very hurtful. At first I reacted like most of us would, but I soon realised it just made the situation far worse.

If at home and mum gets really verbally aggressive I walk away (usually to the kitchen) and wait ten or twenty minutes and let her calm down. I then go back to her by which time she has calmed and we carry on as it though it didn't happen. Very often reassurence in one form or another helps, sometimes it will be a smile and other times a rub on the back and sometimes a hug, which is difficult as I'm a big man of 6ft 4ins and mum is short and frail these days, but she loves a hug and she laughs (I always manage to knock her glasses off), even after an outburst.

Shopping presents a challenge at times. I have learned not to react but to carry on as normal and talk to her calmly and encourage her to help. She soon follows me and after 5 mins of moving on she settles. I don't take her shopping as much now as she has changed again, and she finds it too much to cope with.

It can be very difficult to know the cause of anger and hurtful comments, sometimes I succeed in realising what the real problem is and sometimes I just don't ever know. I have learned not to react -this just fuels the tension and the aggression in my experience.
 

Countryboy

Registered User
Mar 17, 2005
1,458
Cornwall
Hi HarrietD I realize the question refers to a person with dementia being angry or making rude comments, however as a person with dementia who for many years being frustrated by stigma and bureaucrats who think they know more about Me or my condition than I or any other person does with dementia , obviously WE the dementia person are going to react with anger and yes if you like rude comments and why not believe me I know I fought more battles than field Marshal Montgomery and yes a few choice well place swear word after being on TP for over 14 years the Alzheimer Society managers know about a few epically when go back to Katherine.W days Katherine help and supported me quite a lot through a few of my challenges, I have I changed over the past 20 years hope not I still fight if I have to

sorry my views but hopefully if support of others with this illness
 
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SerenaS

Administrator
Staff member
Apr 7, 2011
13,390
London
Hi Tony,

I spotted your message and wanted to say hello again. :)

You're right to point out that people with dementia like yourself are sometimes not treated with respect, and there is still an unfair stigma that can lead to hurt and anger for people with dementia. People need to listen to people with dementia and the people who help to care for them. Katherine and I have spoken with you before, and it's great to see that you're still actively posting on TP and you're a great example to us all on how people can live well with dementia.

We also hear that there can be challenges for people with dementia and their loved ones, and difficult conversations at times. Are there things that help you when you feel angry, or worry that you may have responded with anger or said something that was unkind? It would be useful to have your input on this discussion.

Sometimes dementia can impact on how someone communicates with loved ones and can lead to unkind or cruel comments that a person with dementia might not mean. Of course, that's not easy for anyone to deal with and this discussion aims to find helpful ways for everyone to deal with this and to ensure that people with dementia and carers receive the support they need.

Best wishes

Serena :)
 

Countryboy

Registered User
Mar 17, 2005
1,458
Cornwall
Hi Tony,

I spotted your message and wanted to say hello again. :)

You're right to point out that people with dementia like yourself are sometimes not treated with respect, and there is still an unfair stigma that can lead to hurt and anger for people with dementia. People need to listen to people with dementia and the people who help to care for them. Katherine and I have spoken with you before, and it's great to see that you're still actively posting on TP and you're a great example to us all on how people can live well with dementia.

We also hear that there can be challenges for people with dementia and their loved ones, and difficult conversations at times. Are there things that help you when you feel angry, or worry that you may have responded with anger or said something that was unkind? It would be useful to have your input on this discussion.

Sometimes dementia can impact on how someone communicates with loved ones and can lead to unkind or cruel comments that a person with dementia might not mean. Of course, that's not easy for anyone to deal with and this discussion aims to find helpful ways for everyone to deal with this and to ensure that people with dementia and carers receive the support they need.

Best wishes

Serena :)
Hi Serena great to hear from you thank for reply yes we go back a few years and you obviously remember some of the issues I was having and some of them were a bit colourful to say the least :cool::cool:, it was people didn’t understand that not everyone with diagnosed with Dementia are in fact individual’s :confused: when I was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s I had no issue because both Mum & Dad had dementia previously, unfortunately for me at age 56 I need to continue working and driving that what caused the frustration and gradiences with employers and dvla :mad::mad: , so much so I tried for 3 years to get the dementia overturned and removed from my medical records just to continue life as normal obviously that didn’t happen and I ended up having PET & SPECT scans the end result FTD :D:D,


back to the anger thinking about my own FTD situation my brain works fairly good for a 76 year old but the problem is the connection between brain and verbal conversation ;)somewhere words get lost I can’t explain it but that’s where the frustration or anger kicks in with a few choice swear words :) I rarely talk to strangers or officials, fortunately having worked with computers since 1986 I’m still able to communicate via text or email fairly well ok few mistakes o_O:rolleyes:


thanks again Tony :):)
 

Annakey

Registered User
Oct 26, 2018
33
I agree it is intolerable and I won't stand for it. Telling oneself it is the disease doesn't help. I simply withdraw and let him calm down. Every time it happens my heart hardens a bit more and I care less what he says.

I have also told him that if I leave [because he is always threatening to throw me out] he will have to go into care. That gets through.

This man is an imposter in my husband's clothes.

The first few times I was the object of rage or cruel comments I took it to heart and felt very low, even resentful. Telling myself that it was the disease talking helped a little but not enough.

I developed a tactic that some may dismiss as too simple, trite even. However, I have used the tactic with great success so it works for us; I even used it earlier today when my wife was raging about something. I just told her that I knew what she needed, to which I could see her rally for an onslaught, and then opened my arms and said "a hug". As always the hug was accepted and the mood changed in an instant.

I developed the technique because I'm convinced that rage and cruel comments are often a manifestation of the anxiety and confusion felt by a person with dementia and believed that the comfort of a hug would alleviate some of those issues.

My wife has yet to reach the advanced stage so my simple technique may not always work. However, I will continue to deploy the technique for as long as possible as it helps both of us at present.
 

InElysium

Registered User
Mar 14, 2011
31
Similar to @Annakey we do still remind ourselves that it's the disease talking and not the real him. Don't get wrong, it does hurt when feeling vulnerable and I've had a few breakdowns over the years but they are getting few and far between now.

Plus I've learned to spot the episodes long before they flare up so I have to nudge my Mum and remind her that it's about to happen and not to fuel the fire as often the anger and cruel comments are there to engage an argument so by letting him have a purge he always ends up calm and singing or whistling like nothing happened.

I've seen many times where he's baiting and so long as you don't bite, he will get bored like a child and go about his business like normal. It is easy for some to be able to try and pacify but in our case it doesn't work, whereas offering no fuel to his fire works 99% of the time...
 

BLONDY

Registered User
Oct 29, 2011
80
2000 MILES AWAY
Thanks so much @Grannie G, @canary, @karaokePete, @AliceA and @Palerider for sharing your experiences so far, and for being so open. I really do appreciate it, and they will be a huge help to people reading the magazine.
The best way to deal with cruel angry behaviour, is with the humblest sincerest kindness that you can muster, none of the cruel words being uttered are truths just the wrangling of a mind corrupted by a cruel disease. You would have more luck trying to reason with a brick wall. So be kind, be gentle, prepare a favourite drink and a cake or biscuit smile just smile and in nanoseconds all these upheavals will have been forgotten. Except by you, just learn to live with it you cannot change a mind that is damaged far beyond repair.
 

Just me

Registered User
Nov 17, 2013
203
Although there will be a reason for the anger and cruel comments I don’t always know what it is and after 6 years, I am still taken aback that my gentle, reasonable, laid back mum is reacting this way.

When it happens I keep repeating to myself ‘it’s the dementia, don’t argue, don’t reason’ but it’s easier said than done.

At times I do react but this is pointless and invariably makes the situation worse.

I’m often in tears by then so I just walk away to get myself under control and let her calm down

When I’m coping well, I often say sorry for upsetting her (even if I haven’t) try and find out if she’s in pain, thirsty etc and comfort and reassure her depending on what might have caused the anger and vile comments.
I’ve read that distraction helps but not in our case.

Sadly this is destroying our relationship. When things are on an even keel I’d walk in hot coals for her and when they’re not, I alternatively feel angry, upset, numb or want to pack my bags and run away.
 

Razz

New member
Oct 13, 2017
9
I have a question about anger and hurtfulness, I’m not sure how to deal with it . My mum lives with me and my family since my Dad died 20 months ago. Over the last month her dementia has got a lot worse. She wakes many times in the night and when I hear her walking around and huffing and puffing I get up to put her back to bed . When she sees me or more recently she has been bursting into my bedroom in middle of the night wanting to know where my dad is , she swears she was just with him etc , when I tell her that her husband( my dad ) died over a year and a half ago she does not believe me , gets angry or upset . Other times she will wake and ask when she is going home and when I say she sold her house she accuses me of selling it without her knowing... this is hard as it’s in the night and I want to get her back to sleep , I never know what to say so I say the truth and ask her to look at her memory book , but she just gets frustrated. She recently went on antidepressants, this has helped a lot with her mood in the day , well most days , not all days . It’s so hard as I’m close to my mum but I’m so tired , exhausted and losing the patience I once had for her. I need my sleep but she constantly wakes me up. Has anyone else had this problem . Thank you
 

karaokePete

Registered User
Jul 23, 2017
5,447
N Ireland

northumbrian_k

Registered User
Mar 2, 2017
1,008
Newcastle
My wife's anger usually dissipates as quickly as it boils up so it is often best just to look at her and say nothing until it does. Hugs sometimes work but not when she isn't sure who I am. Saying anything at all so long as it is completely irrelevant to her anger can be a good defence. Hurtful remarks are trickier but I have become accustomed to them over time. As most of what she says now makes little sense in the real world I try to treat hurtful comments as just part of the overall meaningless babble. But, being human, there are still a few comments that get through my defences.
 

Nabroc

New member
May 23, 2019
1
My OH is often angry around tea time, I think it is called sun downing, he will shout and swear at me, I have found if I can distract him by putting music on or taking him into the garden he seems to calm down, other times I just go out of the room, in the past I would argue back which just made things worse, it does not stop you getting hurt, by the things he says, but you just have remind yourself, this is not the man you love but his dementia.
 

shaktibhakti

Registered User
Sep 5, 2016
22
brighton
My mother and I have never had a good relationship because shes always tried to control & used my father to do this also...unfortuantly,so now she is sometimes cruel & hateful becvause she cannot control me anymore & i try to be mindful that i dont try to control her. anybody that says these kinds of things must have a lot of resentful feelings, its about regret coming through...All FEAr based emotions....however , if you are reacting something within in Believes what thye are saying is really True....so it always starts with `US`. We are the only ones who have the power to change this situation by non reaction...takes a lot of `presence` in these situations but one can approach it like a meditation. My mother i consider to be my greatest meditation now. also its the person who often stirs up so much emotion /conflict who will be your greatest teacher
sk
 

good gosh

Registered User
Apr 27, 2016
23
Hampshire UK
Rage and insults are the most difficult to cope with. I use Boots foam earplugs to take the edge off the noise until it subsides an hour later, and industrial ear defenders if I'm busy and refuse to be interrupted. Sometimes they get snatched off my head but too bad - I'm doing the dinner or sorting the bills, or some such - and the advice is to take care of yourself as well.
 
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