How to handle a Dementia patient when they is experiencing a upsetting alternative reality

Do not try to reason with them. Trying to bring them back to the real reality will only make them more upset. Go to their reality and help them work through it.

For example, one of our clients got upset because she forgot to buy her mother a Mother's Day present. Our loved client, Marie is 95 years old and her mother has not been with us for 45 years. Marie was upset because she needed to reach her mother to apologize for not getting her something for this Mother's Day.

So, the family member started explaining to her that her mother was not with us anymore, which got her even more upset. She started crying harder and shouting how she hadn't said goodbye, and etc.

We stepped in and taught the family how to handle this type of situation. We taught them that trying to bring her back on our reality, was only going to make the situation worse. But to go to HER reality and find closure solutions, would bring her emotional state back to baseline and happy.

Key ways to do this are:

  • Have her write a letter to her mom saying Happy Mother's Day. Stamp it and take it to the mailbox.

  • Take a picture and tell her that you are sending it to her mom

  • Get up photo albums and show her pictures of her and her mom

  • Talk about her mom and let her remember until it calms her

  • Don't promise later date interactions. Just do something as a final action to close the issue

  • Distract or redirect her attention

  • Engaging in an activity she enjoys might help to calm her

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