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Tuesday, 06 March 2018 02:00

Dementia-related manipulation – is it a real thing?

As a caregiver do you ever feel like you are being taken advantage of by a loved one or care receiver suffering from dementia? Perhaps you feel like their behaviour is manipulative because it’s just so out-of-character from the loved one or person you once knew?


The reality of dementia-related manipulation is that it would be very difficult for a loved one or care receiver with dementia to even think through the entire process of manipulation. So if you feel that you are being manipulated by certain acts of behaviour as a care giver, you may want to reassess this assumption.

No matter the type of dementia a loved one or care receiver has, certain cognitive abilities are lost throughout the progression of the disease. Just some of these include logic, rationality, problem-solving and decision-making abilities.

Manipulation of those around them is subconscious and almost certainly a side-effect of dementia related behaviour which can often turn our loved ones into strangers as the disease progresses over time.

Here are some of the best ways to deal with conflicting behaviour and emotions when caring for a loved one with dementia:

1. Don’t take things too personally – it’s important to remember that it’s the disease which has changed your loved one’s behaviour.

2. Remember to remain empathetic – never lose sight of the fact that your loved one is just as confused and agitated as you some days. Remember to have empathy for their loss of independence.

3. Do your best to avoid arguments – rational decision-making or understanding is lost during the progression of dementia. Trying to ‘win’ an argument or reason with a loved one often causes more agitation and confusion.

4. Take some time off – if you are feeling overwhelmed, angered or resentful about a loved one’s behaviour, taking some time away from them can do wonders. Ask family members or close friends to fill in for you for a day and take some time to reset.

5. Determine the triggers – if your loved one’s erratic, aggressive or agitated behaviour is being set-off by something, it’s important to find out exactly what it is and find a solution to this trigger.

Dementia affects part of the brain responsible for filtering our behaviour, this means that their ability to gauge between right and wrong deteriorates over time, with hurtful statements and agitated behaviour becoming all the more common. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that all of the above is a mere side-effect of the disease, and not a personal attack on you – one of the most important people in their lives!

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