Handling Difficult Situations

Many caregivers must handle the difficult situation of having a family member with a physical illness complicated by an emotional reaction that interferes with their care—think of the Alzheimer’s patient who has a heart attack, for instance. Often, sick people lash out at their caregivers, but some take it further and become aggressive. Sometimes family members do not know what they are doing, such as when their behavior is a product of their illness or medication. However, if you can determine what’s causing the emotion, half the problem is solved. Therefore, learn techniques to help you care for physical and mental health needs.

Family members with memory disorders may experience sundowning symptoms and display behaviors such as putting their shoe in microwave oven thinking it's their closet.

Behaviors & Emotions

Coping with a family member with a mental health diagnosis presents many challenges to the caregiver. Knowing how to handle emotional outbursts and changes in personality doesn’t come easy and feels frightening and confusing at times. Many situations become a battle of wills between caregiver and recipient over who will win a disagreement resulting in conflict and lots of anger.   Those emotions interfere with solving the situation. How can you de-escalate tensions effectively and learn to stay calm when the one receiving care is not rational?

“How to Handle Difficult Situations” provides tips and suggestions to help caregivers who may find themselves in those circumstances. Remember, as you try different techniques, no one is an expert on their first try. So practice them often and give yourself a lot of grace to learn from your mistakes. 

As noted in the National Data on Caregiver Survey, work often suffers. Caregivers may need to write lots of notes to themselves to remember what they need to do or may find themselves becoming irritated more often over insignificant differences.

Memory Related Behaviors

Most memory disorders occur due to damage or degeneration in the nervous center of the brain. As a result of the damage, proper storage, retention, and recall of memories are not possible.

Traumatic brain injuries due to accidents may cause short-term memory loss or permanent damage. While medical conditions may also be short-term or long-term, the most common are long-term ones. Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Huntington’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome are all well-known medical conditions often requiring years of family caregivers’ support.