Why It Helps to Stay Calm Around Someone With Dementia

Have you ever seen the World War Two-era British poster that reads, "Keep calm and carry on"? Keeping your demeanor calm, even when you're frustrated or angry, is a helpful approach in the long run.

People with moderate-stage dementia tend to mirror the emotional state of the caregiver. If you're happy, she's happy. If you're cross, he's cross.

To help maintain an even keel:

  • Show your calm in nonverbal ways. Move at a slow, reassuring pace; keep your voice even; use soothing tones; smile.

  • When frustrated, remove yourself from the room for a minute if you can. Your body language is apt to show your anger even if you can control your words.

  • Use cues like music, birdsong from an open window, a mug of tea, or other proven soothers to provide a calming environment. Blaring TV and talk radio can make everyone edgy.


almost 3 years ago, said...

Mom adores her old cat, Pepper. And I often find if chats heat up between us, I can ask her, "What's Pep up to right now?" And she will stop, look..then tell me. It almost is a signal now, for us to take a pause.. and at this early stage of mom's AD dementia such cues are still effective. They can de-fuse what are sometimes conversations that get out of control. I refer to this as "Head 'em Off At The Pass!"


almost 3 years ago, said...

DH mirrors everything. It's truly best to stay calm and lighthearted. That's really hard with someone who doesn't get enough sleep.


over 3 years ago, said...

I always try to remain calm, one thing I always remember that I had read about a month ago, it said "remember, that people will Alzheimers or Dementia have feelings too" .... I always think of that when I say something to my mom that saying hurtful things or getting mad is not good !! Calm atmosphere, calm people!!


almost 4 years ago, said...

It confirms what I already surmised, except at times it is very hard to stay calm and smile. I will have t try harder.


almost 4 years ago, said...

Yes this comment helped me and I have noticed a difference when I apply it.


almost 4 years ago, said...

Yes, I discovered this by accident. One day after an outburst I decided to make believe what he said was "funny" and I started to fool around and he immediately caught my mood and was happy again. One never stops learning when dealing with dementia.


almost 4 years ago, said...

It made me stop and think about remaining calm or leaving the room when I am frustrated or edgy. If I'm in a good mood it is easy to be calm. It is when it seems as if the world is going down the drain and my love and I going with it that it is hard to be calm.


about 4 years ago, said...

This was very helpful but I suspected as such. My friend has moved into the home of her son and his family. She calls me regularly very upset and tells me of the atomosphere of her son's family home and it is dysfunctional to say the least. So she is quite upset regularly and it is hard to listen to. But I try to encourage her to stay out of the fray and keep as peaceful as she can. To not get involved but I think that mechanism is gone, she regularly gets involved and gets very upset. When I encourage her to seek a Dr's opinion of her health she gets angry at me. I think she knows she is struggling with dementia.


about 4 years ago, said...

I know that my own tension adds to his and doesn't help me either. Thanks for the reminders.


about 4 years ago, said...

My friend who has been showing signs of dementia for several years, and I am finally understanding her odd behavior, has been in several car accidents and yet she was still allowed to drive. She is now living in another state with her son and his family and does not drive. But the more I read here and learn about dementia the more my denial of it is being revealed to me. This woman and I were women who bonded after our husbands had left us. We had a blast together. She was so capable and strong and I looked up to her as I would a mother/friend. She was smart and so on top of everything. Now she is a shadow of her former self, I have to look and listen really hard to find the other person I once knew. I don't like this disease, it robs the patient of their world, but it also robs those of us who love them of a part of our world. It is gone now. I can't find her except once in awhile. So sad. I spoke with her this morning and she had a huge fight with her daughter in law and she knew she blew up too much. She was irritated. She lives in dysfunction and she is mirroring their behavior and the climate there. It is so hard to hear. But this helps to know how to not react to her on the phone, I am working at "responding" and not making a situation worse. Is there a book I can buy to help me understand this better? Can you recommend one to me. I would appreciate it. Thanks, I'll look for your response.


about 4 years ago, said...

How true! If I show my frustration he becomes angry and unmanageable. I sometimes feel like an actress while trying to convey a positive and happy attitude when I am boiling inside. In the long run it helps me too.


over 4 years ago, said...

Thank you very helpful.


over 4 years ago, said...

This applies to those of us who are not in the throes of dementia. Anxiety and frustration are easily spread like bad germs. Thanks for the reminder, it really helps. My friend is in the beginning stages of moving back home from Kansas where one of her sons sent her after a flood in her home. He sent her to another son's home and she hasn't been happy there. She is definitely depressed and she just received word she can move into an assisted living home and now she is coming home. She feels she may never see the one son again since he has heart problems. I am constantly telling her she doesn't know the future and trying to keep her less anxious. These things teach me a lesson or tow for my own life. Thanks!


over 5 years ago, said...

I just got reminded again that I cannot re-train my husband into behaving as he did before he developed Dementia; I need to train myself to stay calm and to find healthy outlets for my frustration!!