Question: My father has started showing signs of dementia. He says we are stealing from him and other nasty, untrue things. Is there any medication or help that will calm him down and make him more easy to live with?
Dr. Amy: As well as affecting your father’s memory and ability to think things through, dementia can also affect how he feels and behaves. It can be a tough ride for you both. He may be feeling confused and afraid, and I’m sure you feel frustrated and hurt at his outbursts and accusations.
I encourage you to talk with your father’s doctor and arrange for a thorough assessment, if you have not already done so. It’s important to know for sure what medical condition you are dealing with.
There is medication to help with anxiety, depression, or aggression in people suffering from dementia and this is something to discuss with the doctor. At the same time, a variety of tips and techniques can help you deal with —or avoid— some of your father’s challenging behaviour. Home Instead Senior Care has produced a wonderful resource called Help for Alzheimer’s Families that can help you. They have a training section with videos and recorded webinars. I encourage you to look at this site regularly as they offer live chats on different topics throughout the year.
David Troxel is a regular speaker for Home Instead. David’s books, including The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care, are excellent resources. The Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org) also has an excellent resource section on their website, with lots of helpful information and training.
I encourage you to call your local Alzheimer’s organization to learn about support groups and other resources in your area. Many, many caregivers are dealing with false accusations and nasty comments from their loved ones. Knowing you are not alone and not the only one facing this challenge can be a huge relief.
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