Elder Care Series: The Strong Willed Elder

Caring for a strong willed loved one can be a challenge. If your elder has dementia, you likely have an added layer of strain built in. One way to ease the stress in your day is to learn to pick your battles.

By following the tips below, you may be able to make your day more positive and avoid some of the common arguments you and your elder may have.

  • Agree. It’s that simple. Stop a fight before it begins by deciding to agree. Arguing typically doesn’t work and will leave both of you with hurt feelings. If you agree right off the bat, there’s nothing to fight about
  • Instead of reasoning with your elder, redirect them to a new conversation about a topic they feel good about.
  • Distract them. Sometimes a new activity or moving to a different area of the home can turn their mood around.
  • Reassure them. A person with dementia is likely to have some fears and anxiety. Reassure them that you are with them, that they are safe, and that whatever the challenge is you two can tackle it. At all costs avoid lecturing them, as it will get nowhere.
  • Reminisce together instead of saying “remember.”
  • Avoid saying “I told you so” and “I was right.” These phrases quickly heat up the conversation.
  • Instead of commanding, ask politely.
  • Instead of saying “you can’t,” ask them to “do what you can.” Keep it positive, casual, and friendly.
  • Avoid being condescending. Instead encourage your elder and give praise.

While it may not feel natural at first, the more you practice the tips above the more you are likely to see a positive shift in the relationship between you and your elder. It’s easy to slip back into old habits, and you can’t expect yourself to be perfect. If you mess up, take a moment to clear your head, and then get back to it. Eldercare is never easy, so be sure to check out our post Elder Care: Tips for Dealing with Caregiver Burnout.


Do you have another tip for smoothing tensing between an elder and their caregiver? If you have a way that works for you, please leave it in the comments section. We LOVE comments, and yours could help someone else in your situation.

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