Tips for Dealing with Stubborn Elderly Parents with Dementia

July 30, 2020 | BY PHS Staff

If your elderly parent is suffering from Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia, you know how challenging this can be. Yes, you are getting peace of mind knowing you can be there for them and provide them with the love and care they need. But on the other hand, dementia and difficult behavior often go hand in hand.

Caring for senior parents is never easy, especially when they are stubborn and are not receptive to your suggestions. They may even resent your presence, as they feel it is an encroachment on their independence. Resisting care and digging in their heels are the top two hallmarks of Alzheimer’s. They’re also among the most common reasons why adult children look for help from Alzheimer’s in home care professionals.

Anosognosia refers to a lack of awareness that one has an impairment, which can be a part of the brain damage that happens with dementia, says Alzheimer’s.net. As your parent’s brain changes in a physical sense, the part of the brain that would typically be able to understand that there is a problem has been damaged. This, if your parent has anosognosia, they cannot understand the presence of dementia, making it difficult or impossible to convince them that they have a memory impairment.

Not sure how to deal with your stubborn elderly parents with dementia? Remember, you’re never alone. Here are some tips to ease the situation.

How to Communicate Effectively with Your Aging Parent

  • Ask simple, answerable questions: Be sure to ask just one question at a time, preferably those with yes or no answers, suggests SeniorLink. Don’t ask open-ended questions or give them too many choices, as this will overwhelm them. For example, ask: “Would you like water or tea?” or “Do you want to wear the white blouse or the red one today?” It’s even better if you can show them their choices, as visual prompts will clarify your question and guide their response.
  • Avoid distractions: Find a place and time to talk with your parent when there’s not a lot going on. Distractions may make them agitated. Shut the TV off, turn down the radio, and make sure there’s not a room full of visitors before you start your conversation.
  • Nix the power struggles: Avoid pushing or nagging your parents. If you make ultimatums, this will only get them riled up and make it more likely that they will challenge you. Present a choice or suggestion, and see where they take it without harping on them first.
  • Be straightforward: Less information is more when it comes to elderly parents who don’t want to listen. It’s a mistake to bog them down with too many details about upcoming activities or why certain things must happen. Give them the broad strokes, leaving things nice and simple. By making things easy to understand, they are more likely to be OK with something that would typically make them resist.
  • Communicate assertively: Open communication reduces frustration by allowing you to express yourself while helping other people understand your needs and limits. When communicating in an assertive manner, you’re expressing your own needs and desires while respecting the needs and desires of those around you. In essence, both parties are able to engage in a dignified discussion.
  • Focus on the positives: Talk about what activities your parent can still do independently. Maybe they can still prepare their own meals or do their own laundry. Make a list of all the everyday activities they can manage. Then, ask them what tasks are starting to become difficult, such as climbing the stairs or remembering to pay the bills. If you can get them to admit some problem areas, you’re more likely to reach a compromise.

Alzheimer’s home care can give you a break when you’ve had too much and need space. Don’t hesitate to reach out for the assistance you need. Even the most understanding adult children need space once in a while to recharge.

Contact Preferred HealthStaff

Preferred HealthStaff professionals are certified and trained to care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. To learn more about our Alzheimer’s care, please contact us toll free at 866-943-9791 or in Fairfield 717-642-8500.