Helpful Ways to Communicate with a Loved One Who is Hostile

An empathetic approach can work best when dementia causes belligerence.


- Posted on Sep 26, 2019

A mother and daughter in a loving embrace.

This article is based on information provided by Home Instead Senior Care.

Confusion and an inability to remember things can make your loved one hostile at times. When this happens, it can be most effective to put yourself in his or her shoes and to focus on empathy. Your loved one may calm down when you:

1. Consider his or her feelings.

2. Try not to pose yes or no questions.

3. Let your empathy show.

4. Communicate with love, concern, helpfulness, and confidence.

5. Hear what he or she has to say.

You may want to follow these examples when dealing with your loved one’s hostility:

· “Mom, I realize you’re angry with me at the moment. When you feel like talking, I’m here to listen.”

· “Dad, I’m sorry I stepped in to button your shirt. I thought you wanted me to do it, but I should have asked.”

· “Mom, I know you don’t like to wait for your granddaughter to take you to the grocery store. While she’s on her way, tell me about your childhood in North Carolina.”

· “We are going to meet the family for breakfast soon, let’s get your shoes on before we head out.”

· “I am sorry this is happening, I can see you are upset, can we sit and talk about it?”

· “Mom, I know apple pie is your specialty. But why don’t I give you a hand so I can learn how it’s done?”

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