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Coping with Dementia Related Emotional Problems

Dementia is associated with a host of emotional problems. Such problems stem from the direct effects of the disease on the brain, but more indirect sources, such as changes in living situations, routine, and social relationships can not be discounted.

Speak to your doctor first. If your loved one seems depressed, or experiences sudden or extreme changes such as angry outbursts or severe mood and personality changes, see a professional for a consultation.

Symptoms Possible Explanations Strategies
Anger and Frustration Feeling frightened
Feeling humiliated
Overwhelmed by new places and people
Break down tasks into smaller steps
Depression Social isolation
Speak with a doctor for treatment and/or referral for counseling.
Keep loved ones socially engaged and active
Anxiety and Clinging New places
Strangers
Focus on peaceful and distracting activities.
Use the three Rs (Reassurance, Response, and Refocus)
Mood Swings Brain changes
Untreated psychiatric disorders
Diet
Caffeine
Feeling rushed
Clutter
Noise
General “overstimulation”
Have a doctor assess your loved one for depression or other psychiatric problems.
Minimize distractions and noises.
Don’t rush your loved one.
Paranoia or Accusing Attempting to find a logical explanation
Confusion
Fear
Gently explain to your loved one that you are not trying to harm them or take anything away.

Remember that this list isn’t comprehensive, but it should provide you with a general idea of things that could be going on with your loved one, and the effects it has on their emotions. You may even be able to come up with some additional explanations and new strategies to cope with them that are more personal to you and your loved one’s unique situation.

Try keeping a diary or playbook so that when you notice recurring issues and responses to situations, you can record what worked — and what didn’t.