Why are you not supposed to disagree with them? - AgingCare.com

Why are you not supposed to disagree with them?

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I understand all the obvious reasons, especially when they are agitated or overly frustrated, but it seems that the more accepting I am by agreeing with her or smiling and saying anything encouraging makes her sink further into depression or ohpoorpitifulme-ness. The only time I can get her to eat, go to the bathroom (she doesn't care if it gives her UTI's but she'll go if I tell her she stinks and it makes her mad) or stop sitting there staring at me for hours on end and DO something (color, paint, watch tv, read, sort fabrics, fold clothes) is if I challenge her to just stop it with the pitiful act. When I say nice chatty things or sweet encouragements as you would a child, she just moans pitifully that she's old and can't do anything. But if I tell her to stop being pitiful, don't give up like this and 'rage against the dying of the light' she fires up and cusses me but then she actually tries to do things besides just sit there and become more and more depressed. So I ask again, is the not disagreeing with them a no-no across the board? Is it inherently harmful to their condition (mentally or physiologically) for the sufferer to be contradicted? if so, can you tell me why?

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I can tell you as a caregiver and from personal experience that you aren't going to argue someone out of a delusion. I had an ongoing delusion in the hospital (icu psychosis) and believe you me, that delusion was True!! Delusions can be very tricky to deal with.

Not everything out of the mouth of someone with dementia is a delusion. I don't think you need to agree with everything they say or that arguing is always pointless. I don't think that a pityparty is exactly a delusion. If you have found ways to jolt your loved one out of that rut, good for you!
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I have to say my 87 year old grandma who has dementia will swear something up and down that isn't true. I leave those go usually and end up walking away muttering to myself to keep my own sanity. Then other times I have found talking to her and saying those perfect poking words to work with her. I think the fighting against them is more to do with when they are telling you something that you know isn't true, such as some believe their loved ones are alive or that just yesterday they drove to the store to get milk so they can't understand why suddenly there is no milk (mostly because you now do the driving and you didn't get to the store to get milk). Rather than spend 30 minute in a yelling/fighting/debating match that ends up being so frustrating, those are times you leave it alone. I think those are situations that goes by that rule of don't argue. When it comes to helping them to care for themselves or letting you care for them, I don't see anything wrong with a bit of motivation as long as it's not done meanly. Do what works. In some ways we know better than professionals about our specific loved ones. They go on general cases where we actually care for our loved ones everyday.

On a side note those memory drugs mess a lot with hormones and can cause mood swings. My mom and I (back when she was alive) we tried to have my grandma on some of those helpful drugs and we found them not so helpful. She would get so angry on those drugs then other times just be so lifeless it was scary. She would go from hitting, screaming, shouting then even go as far as to feel guilty for how mean she was and then get so depressed she was refusing to eat or sleep. I think she was punishing herself for treating us so badly moments before. We ended up taking her off the drugs after trying quite a few and seeing that she was having no real quality of life while taking them since they were causing her so much agony and pain to feel so out of control with her moods on them. Hopefully the drugs aren't affecting your mother as badly. 
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I think that getting into an argument with person who has brain damage is not helpful. It might make the healthy brain person feel better, because they got something off their chest, or put the brain damaged person in their place, but, it doesn't really solve anything. People with dementia can't learn new skills or traits. So, they aren't going to do things the way you want, just because you are right. It's like getting upset that a person in a coma doesn't have a conversation with you.

Also, dementia is not static. It often fluctuates from day to day, hour to hour. Just because the brain is able to focus and complete a task on one day, doesn't mean it will happen the next day. The abilities in people with dementia also fluctuates. She may be able to clean herself one day, but not the next. There may be good days and not so good days. So, we may improperly set standards for the dementia patient if we set goals that they don't always meet. That might cause unnecessary frustration.
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Dear Runaway77, I am in a similar boat as you. My mother's dementia started after a fall. Her blood pressure was in the 240's, she had a UTI and a fever. From there she had a blood sugar of 29 and was comatose from the next incident. We moved her to a memory care facility due to the fact I am an only child and both my husband and myself work full time. She recently was in the hospital for a silent heart attack and UTI from a superbug. On IV antibiotics, she was in a rehab for the treatment as the memory care cannot do IV antibiotics. We moved her closer to home into a new memory care facility with the same results as before. By day 3 she "hates it"...by day 6 she has had a small fall trying to transfer herself because "there is nothing wrong with her". She is angry and insulting when we visit. Politely let me know "yeah she is a B##ch" when I told her we did not come to visit to argue. I have been told that I "started it" I have been told that she knows.."you hate me"...and on and on. She has enough awareness that you cannot redirect her as they tell you to do. She will keep "pushing the buttons" until I finally get to a point that I tell her to please stop, which just fuels the situation. There is no winning, but I have been told..."so just don't visit". Last night as we were standing up to leave, the nurse came with her meds...to which she told the nurse..."I wish they were poison so I could drop dead"...then she turned her head, looked directly at me and said..."I know that is what she would like me to do"!!!! Sorry to say, I let her know that that was a hurtful and nasty thing to say...and "don't put words into my mouth. You might want to think about what you just said". Her comment to me (again looking directly at me) was "you don't need to listen in and I said that is how I think you feel and I have a right to feel that way"! When they know what they are saying, then I do think we should be able to tell them they are being hurtful or mean or stubborn or whatever the case may be.
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A great question and many aspects of incapacity come to mind. I think that you need to determine what your mother still is capable of doing and not disagree just for the sake of disagreeing.

It's been my experience that many people with cognitive and/or physical decline become depressed and fall into a destructive pattern of wallowing in self pity. Our country does a terrible job at helping people acknowledge their anger and sadness that life has changed and making necessary adaptations for a new life. Adapting to change is critical to surviving, persevering, and thriving in tough times.

My inlaws, who had always been hardworking individuals, seemed to give up living when my MIL's neurodegenerative order prevented them from doing the things they loved to do. It took all of us "kids" to rally around them and encourage them to make the changes that enabled them to live independently and with dignity. But there came a time when us cheerleaders had to go home and live our own lives.

If a person has gotten to the point of their mental or physical decline that they are incapable of driving, dressing themselves, preparing meals, having a conversation, etc. then I would not scold them for doing nothing. On the other hand, living with a person who chooses to do nothing for himself/herself must be terrible and I can understand that not disagreeing with them only enables the unhealthy behavior. And that is among the many reasons why having respite from caretaking is so very important.
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I am reminded of the words of Mark Twain

Never argue with a fool...other people cannot tell the difference

Meaning..knowing that the person has dementia....what do you really believe argument will accomplish? Seems about on par with arguing with a fool.
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Sunny, I was reading your answer and knew it was the way a professional caregiver would do it. When we live with someone who is family it can be so much different. Then I realized how my mother will get busy and do things when it comes to other people. In my mother's case, there is no one but me. Family doesn't visit. Friends are gone. I'm here most of the time, but I'm just the omnipresent bothery old daughter. No wonder she is depressed. It seems the ideal solution for most people would be having others come in. Other people are the best antidepressants I know. It is probably why seniors who stay active and around people don't get depressed, while those who sit around their house do. Depression feeds on itself. The trick is how to get others to be more involved, as well as how to get our parent to be receptive to the "intrusion" into their caves.
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I'd seek help for mom with her doctor. Sometimes medications are helpful. I think that as a society, we frown on verbal insults on people who are disabled. And if you have dementia, you may be considered disabled. Sometimes showing kindness, patience and calmness is as important as getting a task accomplished. To me telling a person with Azheimers to stop their pitiful act is unacceptable. I'd ask for help to avoid things like that.
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I've noticed the same thing as you have, runaway. If I get onto my mother about getting up and doing things, she'll get very angry right away and tell me how bad she hurts, how she misses my father, and how she wishes she were dead. It was the same each time I did it. But a little after that, she would get up and do things. She would clean a room or go in the front yard. I don't do it anymore. I would have to spend my life going through it, which I'm not willing to do. I let her do what she wants to do. I don't want to live in a war zone and I'm sure she doesn't, either.

I hope you can find something that helps with her depression. Depression makes caregiving so much harder.
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We got the ALZ diagnosis just four months ago but I have been caring for her for the past year (hip and lower spine fractures last February) she was ok mentally with memory issues but she didn't start the 'crazy' until she started taking Aricept for memory. It didn't take two months of that for her to spiral down into depression and even though she is off of it now she seems to be in a loop. They have her on clonazepam for anxiety and I am going to start her going to a day center every Friday where they can start some counseling for the depression. All her doctors want to do is medicate her but everything they have tried has adverse side effects ...
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