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How do you communicate with someone who has dementia?

My mom has dementia but the hardest thing is not her memory loss, it's the paranoia. She accuses my stepfather of trying to kill him and steal her money. She knows exactly what to say that will upset him and has started making all kinds of hurtful accusations. He knows it's the disease talking but not taking it personally is easier said than done. Does anyone have any suggestions for us as far as what to say when she starts saying hurtful things to him? The stress is taking its toll on my stepfather even though we have live in caregivers 12 hours a day. Weird thing is that she is as sweet as pie to them.
Status: Open    Dec 19, 2015 - 12:23 PM


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Jan 27, 2016 - 08:09 AM

My father had dementia and often would become paranoid or angry. He would lash out at me regarding his ex-wife, my mother, who passed away 15 years earlier, thinking he was still married and she was alive. At first, I'd try to correct him and let him know that they were divorced and she had passed years ago. This, of course, was a LOGICAL response to an IRRATIONAL point of view. He would either relive the divorce and her death, which was so sad for him, or argue that it wasn't true. I learned to just LISTEN and FEEL what he was saying. I'd nod and ask him to explain more. I'd say things like, "Dad, I can understand why you're mad..." or "That must feel horrible..." or "How can I help..." He would fairly quickly run out of things to say and we'd move on to another topic. (I am not a medical professional).


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By cmthompson999 on Jul 27, 2016 - 03:25 PM | Like (0)  |  Report

I have the same issue with my husband, it doesn't always make sense so I probably don't always respond as he wishes so I say something dismissive such as,
" oh how frustrating for you!" Then I use distraction tactics and change the subject or activity so he focuses on something else. I figure his brain is trying to make sense but doesn't quite focus on the sequence or consequence so better not to continue down that path byway!
Please advise if this is innapropriate

By patricia.kayla on Jul 31, 2016 - 09:27 AM | Like (0)  |  Report

I deal with my mother who is 95 and has dementia. She can be very cruel and hateful. All of us dealing with loved ones need to be strong. Patience is always needed.

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