May 9, 2019 by
“I’m telling you, there’s a dog in my closet! I hear it growling all night long. We’ve got to find its owner!”
Hearing your older loved one voice concerns such as this that you know to be untrue is unsettling – but not uncommon. Your first instinct may be to try to rationalize with the person with a response such as, “Nonsense! There’s no way a dog could have gotten into your closet!” Yet for a variety of reasons, this is often the least effective way to manage irrational thoughts and behaviors in the elderly.
- First and foremost, schedule a check-up with the senior’s doctor. It’s important to uncover any cognitive impairments and to ensure he or she receives appropriate treatment if needed. There also could be medication side effects at play.
- Seek out the reasoning behind the irrationality, and then determine how to resolve the issue. For instance, perhaps the heating vent in the closet has become loose, or an air vent is blowing onto a row of hangers and causing an unusual noise.
- Instead of trying to correct the person, respond lovingly with reassurance and compassion. Focus on acknowledging the feelings being expressed, and on letting the person know that you are there to help. Accompanying the senior into another area and providing enjoyable distractions, such as listening to music, baking, gardening, or looking at photos together, can help restore calm.
- One of the best ways to overcome any challenge is by finding out what has helped others in a similar situation. Consider joining an in-person or online community of family caregivers, allowing for the exchange of helpful advice and resources. A number of options are available, such as AgingCare.com’s caregiver forum.
- Seek out the support of a professional in-home care provider, such as At Home Independent Living. Our caregivers are adept at helping older adults remain active and engaged, and in helping to ease challenging behaviors. Partnering with a trusted professional care agency also provides you with much-needed respite to take a break from caregiving duties while knowing your loved one is receiving quality care.
For more tips on helping your senior loved one through challenges with aging, dementia or chronic illness, contact the At Home Independent Living professionals in elder care in Syracuse, NY and surrounding areas. We’re always available to answer any questions, share resources specific to the challenges you’re facing, and to provide a free in-home consultation and development of a customized care plan to improve quality of life for your senior loved one. Call us any time at (315) 579-HOME (4663) or contact us online to learn more.