Dealing With Difficult People

5 Tips to Help When You're Caring for a Grump
sourpuss

Having a chronic disease can turn even easygoing personalities into Eeyores who are chronically negative and glum. When a loved one's dark clouds rain on your ability to get things done (or to simply make it through the day cheerfully yourself), try these strategies:

1. Give the grump a little acknowledgment.

Sometimes you can find an opening to turn a bad outlook around by pausing to acknowledge the hurt behind the scowl. Kneel down and look your loved one in the eye. Give a hug or pat a hand and say, "I know you're having a rough day." Ask if he or she is scared, or lonely. You might be pooh-poohed, but this small act of understanding gives tacit permission to your loved one to have hard feelings. And that acknowledgment can be a breakthrough to, if not a sunnier side, at least a more pleasantly shaded side.

2. Shake up the status quo.

To change the mood, sometimes it helps to change the scene. If you've been indoors all day, go outside (weather permitting) or take a short drive together. If you've been sitting, walk around the house together. Change rooms. If you've fallen into a routine of boring lunches, make fresh cookies for dessert. If your loved one is still in pajamas at 3 p.m., suggest getting bathed and dressed up. Unfortunately, yes, this approach can require extra effort on your part. But the payoff of an improved atmosphere may well be worth it. Sometimes a shift as simple as doing your daily routine out of order (dessert first! afternoon bath!) can do the trick.

3. Tease or flirt away a challenging moment.

React in a lighthearted way: "Oh, come on, Mr. Sourpuss, let's see if you still hate me after breakfast." Or, "Did you join the seven dwarves while you were asleep? I swear I'm sitting here with Grumpy." Or, "You're so cute when you get cranky!" Make a joke about a difficult nurse. Obviously you know your loved one best, and what kind of humor he or she might respond to. But a little cajoling can sometimes help the person see his or her mood for what it is.

4. Tune out a bad mood with music.

You don't have to call attention to the grumpiness; simply put on a CD or radio station playing light music that you know your loved one enjoys. Some may find jazz or Big Band-era hits uplifting; for others, a calm but soaring Mozart concerto might do the trick. Research shows that our very heart rates react to lively music, which means that its power to lift mood may be partly biological. (Though you might want to stay away from the blues for this purpose!)

5. Coax the blues away with treats.

Try sweetening the air by offering a treat that sweetens the issue at hand -- a bouquet of flowers from the garden, a favorite cup of tea, a special movie to watch together after the errand. Offer to engage in a favorite activity in barter for a little cooperation now. Seeing you make the effort is enough to soften some grumps. For others, some sweet-talking cajoling helps.


30 days ago, said...

Blues music is comforting for some reason. It doesnt try and jolly away pain but somehow in acknowledging the sorrow, that makes it harder to bear. Makes sense, yes? When you in a good mood you listen to happy music but that can just be irritating when you down. If you sad and listen to say Emmylou Harris + Dolly Parton 'BLue Train' it's sweet sadness is immensely uplifting.


almost 3 years ago, said...

I am a caregiver to my brother, 67 years young, in denial with AD. His bad moods are predominately shared with me, probably because I am the primary caregiver I presume? I must admit when he is having a bad day and/or moment there is no getting him out of it. If anything I've learned it's easier and safer to not feed into it, realizing anything I say is liable to make things worse for everyone. I have found an acknowledgement of his complaint, then detouring to something else works best. My brother is great with everyone else, likeable and sociable under almost any circumstance. I am on the receiving end of the mean side, alone without anyone's presence, maybe things don't change. I have learned that sometimes less is better and know, "this shall pass." I remember to keep things simple and safe. It would be nice to be able to bond more (while there is a chance) but the AD isn't helping. God Bless Caregivers


almost 3 years ago, said...

My mother has Vascular Dementia. She has been hateful, physically abusive & emotionally abusive since I was three years old. I'm 53 now and the emotional abuse continues. I am having a very difficult time with my own feelings. I find it very difficult to have feelings of sorrow for her. (I was also sexually abused but not by either parent.) A pastor that I think a lot of once told me that sometimes the only way to honor our parents is to stay away. Has anybody here come up with a way to feel sorrow for a sick parent that was very abusive?


almost 3 years ago, said...

These were all good suggestions and the only one I haven't tried so far is MUSIC! Good thought and I'll give it a try as "Mr. Grumpy-pants" is in one of his moods again and telling me I'm talking to him like he's my son. His attitude is part of what a stroke did to him a few years ago but doctor's can't *fix*. I pray for strength, courage & patience.


almost 3 years ago, said...

I love this! My hubby has Vascular Dementia and grumpy is his first and last name most if the time. Thank you for new ideas


almost 3 years ago, said...

Actually all 5 suggestions are good ones. I have been using these suggestions for several yrs w/my partner and a good friend who lives w/pain 24/7. I would recommend these suggestions to anyone dealing w/these challenges.


almost 3 years ago, said...

All suggestion are good, however; when the since of humor goes, there is nothing that is going to bring them out of grumpy, but just leaving them alone until they are ready to come out of it by themselves.


almost 4 years ago, said...

gadjett, my sister & I also use the "leave the room and come back in talking about something else" method and it works many times. Glad you brought that one up. It works better than anything else we do.


almost 4 years ago, said...

After going through this with my mother ,, I was not happy to see this coming on in my husband. I don't know how I will ever get him to a doctor, but I think I really need too. At times he is very loud and verbally abusive. He gets in my face with his finger and swears at me. Tells me the usual ,, I have to have everything my way, ect. I am beginning to get afraid of him. His last rant was because he accidently hurt me and when I yelled , he started, saying he could not have hurt me,, that I was making it up? I began to realize a few months ago that our arguments were not normal and stopped arguing with him, but he keeps at , me even if I don't respond.


almost 4 years ago, said...

the fact that you can try to joke them out of a bad mood. I have been afraid to say much.


almost 4 years ago, said...

not really - I've tried all the above, and the best way I've found is just to leave for a few minutes, and sometimes when I return, all is well! Whatever works. Mom is on pureed foods, so ice cream is about her only 'treat', and she will balk at it sometimes too..... and even when she is actually humming a tune, she still won't eat..... oh well, I just keep on keeping on! ( I smile most of the time, sing along - sometimes it works, usually just going away and coming back is the best....


almost 4 years ago, said...

Daizie, I know exactly what you mean. My parents will listen to others and act happy & talk. If my sister & I go in, they start grumbling, nothing is going right, they don't like their meals, You name it. We don't understand it. I go in smiling and try to have a good positive conversation & attitude and my Mom uses us to have a pity party. They are still in their home. If someone else is there, she's okay. But if she can get me by myself, she starts fussing about everything & everybody. That is her true self though. Depressing. I do the best I can & decided that's all I can do and decided to try to be as happy as I can be as soon as I leave. I cannot let this envelope my whole being & thoughts or I'll go crazy. So I make an effort every time and do what a daughter should do and then when I leave, I move on and occupy myself. The article is good "in theory" but it doesn't work always with immediate family. We catch the bad part. We LOVE it when she has a visitor when we go. We get to see our mother & Dad talk & smile, etc. They love us. They say so. But, we catch all the negative.


almost 4 years ago, said...

What answer do you give them in an assisted living memory care unit when they say they are lonely or scared and then demand to go home when they can't. Once Mom starts in she doesn't stop. The nurses and caregivers try these tips but If I do; FORGET IT. one track mind. It is so much easier for a stranger to try these tips than the family member. We are to blame for everything. for them being there, for their injury, for the mental forgetness, everything.


almost 4 years ago, said...

It doesn't matter what I do or say none of this helps


almost 4 years ago, said...

These simple little ideas and suggestions were just what I needed to to get me motivated and remember that my mood affects others. If I approach the day with a fresh and positive outlook it will be sure to help cheer others in my care. When I feel bogged down or overwhelmed I can act just like Eyeore and mope around feeling sorry for my self. And now i see how that negative mood can contribute to anothers outlook as well. Thank You.


almost 4 years ago, said...

We've used almost all of these helpful hints. They don't work. They think you are being condescending. I would too. My mother just wants to sit & talk about negative things which will drag you down in a hole with her after a while. Since she is negative by nature, her disability & bedridden status makes it even worse. I just talk a little, try to find something on TV that she likes, and find distractions when I can. Every patient is different though.