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Caring for Alzheimer's and dementia patients, any advice?

(17 Posts)
Shangela123 Mon 24-May-21 08:25:16

I've worked in care previously but have recently started in a care home, three quarters of the residents have Alzheimer's or dementia at varying stages.
I don't have any experience of it within my family, I'm aware that people suffering from the illness can become verbally and physically aggressive sometimes though.
In the past couple of days at work I've had verbal assaults from 2 residents with dementia. The first lady shouted a range of obscenities at myself and 2 colleagues, telling us to drop dead, evil bastards, cut our heads off, nasty little bitches and so on.
The 2nd was a gentleman who seemed to turn very quickly. He told me that he was going to report me because I was a 'nasty little bastard" who was 'abusing a resident'.
This was totally untrue of course but I was almost in tears for some reason, I suppose I was shaken up by it.
15 minutes later he was absolutely fine. I know it's because of their illness that they do this.
I've been told by the staff to just ignore residents when they say these things and to not engage with them, just wondered if anybody else is in a similar role or has family members with it and how they deal with aggression and not take it personally? Thanks

Shangela123 Mon 24-May-21 08:28:58

We have a lady who will engage in a lot of conversation but says a lot of nonsensical things, as I know she is confused. I have been asked to go along with what is being said and to pretend with her.
For instance she asked me "How were your confessionals?" And I just said , fine thank you.
She (and other residents) also ask what time they're 'going home' and we are told to pretend e.g. "You're going home in an hour".

Would people advise this as the best way to engage with the residents?

aggie Mon 24-May-21 08:37:43

It sounds as if you have not had any training from the employers ?
It is hard to get your head round the different scenarios

aggie Mon 24-May-21 08:38:48

Yes go along with your fellow workers advice as long as you know it is safe advice

Oopsadaisy1 Mon 24-May-21 08:43:23

MIL was convinced that her carers at the Home were stealing from her, and she would say pretty nasty things, her carers would just smile and change the subject.

I think that you will get used to it and will start to toughen up, as you say they are ill and don’t mean what they say, but you must have training to cope with aggressive or violent patients.

silverlining48 Mon 24-May-21 08:51:53

I am surprised that your employer does not better prepare new staff with appropriate training,
People with dementia need calm and kind management and sometimes that can be hard if they are being aggressive towards you but it often is because they are frightened and confused. Does the home encourage family to give a short account of the lives of the residents prior to dementia ? I t helps staff in their day to day involvement when speaking to residents.
Have a look online or contact Alzheimer’s which has lots of information about managing this cruel disease and don’t take personal offence, it’s the disease, but it’s shocking you have received so little training fir this difficult role,
Wishing you well and thank you on behalf of all of us who know how important the work you do is,
Google the poem which begins
What do you see nurse when looking at me about an
Old woman in a care home. I wish every home had a copy on the wall.

FannyCornforth Mon 24-May-21 08:55:24

Hello Shangela, are you okay?
It's difficult to not be concerned about you, bearing in mind your other recent posts.
It seems as if you are going through such a tough time in so many aspects of your life - your partner is being controlling. possibly abusive, to you;
you have already said that you are unhappy at work because you find it draining dealing with your colleagues; and now you are being abused by the service users at work.
It seems that you are lacking support in so many areas of your life; both emotional and practical.
Have you spoken to anyone in 'real life' about your problems? You must be feeling very stressed. I have suffered from extreme stress due to work, and know how it feels.
It appears to me that you need to decide what you really want and make some changes.
I'm sorry that you are going through such a difficult time. It must be hard for you flowers

MerylStreep Mon 24-May-21 09:02:16

It sounds as if your care home isn’t following the guidelines issued by NICE. I suggest you read up on these guidelines and present them to your management.

sodapop Mon 24-May-21 09:08:08

That's all very distressing for you Shangela sounds like you haven't been given the training or strategies for dealing with this. You do need to talk to your managers about training etc. My daughter is a mental health community nurse and advises staff in residential home on the care of their residents. Maybe there is someone in your local mental health team who can support both staff and residents.

Redhead56 Mon 24-May-21 09:25:04

Shangela my mum ended up in a home because of dementia. She was brutally attacked in her house it took months for recovery. I don't know if it brought on the dementia but it never showed its ugly face before the incident.
My mum had a hard life Working partime and brought up eight children. She had a few friends in work but she wasn't a woman to be standing on the doorstep chatting.
When she went into the care home not far from our family home.
The moods started to show she would be upset and crying asking why she was there. It was very upsetting for me I only live a ten minute walk away so I went most days if not in work.
The next mood would be nasty very rude to the staff and would deliberately make a mess of herself. She would sit in her chair and ignore me as if I wasn't there.
The final mood would be violent she would deliberately pick some thing and throw it with vile abusive language. She would end up in a locked room with others until she calmed down.
No one trained me as a daughter how to cope with this it was a learning process a horrible one. It was heart breaking this was not my mum it was a painful experience I never want to see again.
You should surely have been given some instruction on how to deal with this. I would have thought it would have been apart of training in a care home.
You have to be strong do your job but don't engage as the moods change without warning. You have to do this in order to do the job as efficiently and safe as possible.

silverlining48 Mon 24-May-21 09:44:51

Redhead you could have been telling my story, including a robbery and serious assault at home, after which mum tipped into severe dementia which took everything from her and us. Oh the tears I cried. flowers,

dogsmother Mon 24-May-21 09:53:37

Listen to staff advise. Particularly the most experienced not necessarily the older ones but the experienced!

25Avalon Mon 24-May-21 09:54:00

Someone I know was a nurse in a dementia home. When she first started as a young girl there was an elderly lady waiting for her mum to collect her. My friend decided she should be told the truth that her mum was dead. Elderly lady burst into inconsolable tears. A little later she was waiting for mum again. Friend then realised it was better just to go along with it and tell her mum would be along soon rather than cause her pain.

That was 60 years ago. I am surprised you are not getting better training. Mil was in a care home with dementia demanding they call a taxi to take her home. No one argued, just said let’s have a cup of tea first, and then mil forgot all about it. So distraction is useful. Agreement is another useful tool in not arguing. I guess if they get abusive you can only ignore until they calm down and forget it, but if they are physically aggressive you should get help from a more experienced member of staff.

Looking after these poor people can be very sad but remember those you make smile and give a happy experience to do will have endorphins released as a consequence which can only be good for their overall health even when they don’t remember. You are a special person to do this job.

GillT57 Mon 24-May-21 10:04:57

My late DM had dementia and spent her last few weeks in a care home. We were extremely fortunate that we found a very caring, small place for her to live, and when she demanded a taxi home every now and then, they would tell her it was on its way, but come and have a cup of tea first. They also asked us to write a short biography of Mum's life so that when she started talking about her Father being late home from the pit, they could go along with it as they knew her Father had been a miner, for example. Sadly, good, attentive care is time consuming and takes a mixture of training, kindness and common sense. You obviously have the latter two, but it is regrettable that you find yourself dealing with people for whom you have no training. Maybe just observe, ask, read articles online, Alzheimer's Society can be very helpful.

Witzend Tue 25-May-21 09:08:37

Having had both my mother and my Fil with dementia, I do know how upsetting such things can be. My normally robust and jolly brother was once reduced to tears because of the vile things my mother had said - and he had always been the ‘golden’ boy.

You just have to keep telling yourself it’s the disease talking, it’s not personal, however much it may feel like it at the time.

Your employers really should have given you some training in caring for people with dementia. Contrary to what so many people with little or no experience often think, all too often it’s not just a case of gently getting more forgetful. O would that it were!

One thing I really wish we’d known when we were new to it all, was not to correct people when they say things you know can’t possibly be true - it’s true to them, so you just have to go along with it whenever possible.
E.g. when my mother heard any country from Armenia to Zimbabwe mentioned on TV, she’d say she’d been there.
By then I knew better than to say, ‘I don’t think so!’ Instead I’d say, ‘Oh, yes - was it nice?’

The answer was invariably ‘I can’t remember.’ (!)

More seriously, a good ten years after MiL had died, FiL suddenly started asking where she was. Still new to it all then, we gently explained that she’d died years ago, but he’d cry - only to forget and ask again soon afterwards.

So we started saying she’d just gone to the shops, or to visit Auntie So-and-So, which would keep him happy. He never remembered that we’d said much the same before.

Similarly, my mother at over 90 started saying she ought to go and visit her parents - dead some 30 odd and 50 odd years - since ‘they must be getting old and could do with some help.’

I’d say e.g. ‘Maybe tomorrow, then, but I’ll ring first to make sure they’ll be in - we wouldn’t want to go all that way and find them out, would we?’
I became very adept at what is known as ‘love lies’! As long as they kept her reasonably happy.....

I do wholeheartedly recommend the Alzheimer’s Society Talking Point forum for carers of people with dementia. For several years it really was a lifeline for me.

silverlining48 Tue 25-May-21 10:51:54

Hope some of this has helped Shangela, well done fir what you are doing.
Hope you are ok and things work out at home too. Best wishes and flowers

Izabella Tue 25-May-21 11:11:07

I feel saddened that you are not getting help and support in your role. Perhaps looking at this link will help?

Shangella thereare also online courses where you can study for free independently, but really your employer should be stepping up for you.

There is a FREE online course starting in early July which may help

I wish you well, and thank you for your caring role. I myself have early Alzheimers.