Your dad is mad that you took away the car keys, and just about every time you take him out in your car, he talks about how he wishes he could drive for himself.

Your aunt was living alone and not eating well or taking her medication. You moved her into an assisted living and see that she is doing better. But every time you visit, she says she does not like it and can’t understand why she can’t go back home.

You took over paying the bills for your mom because she was getting things mixed up. Now when you visit, she asks when she can go back to doing the bills again, like she had in the past.

How do we find the patience with our family members when we hear the same complaints every visit?

I worked many years ago with a woman who did not have children, and she had memory impairment. As her memory impairment progressed, and she developed other health problems, she required more assistance. She moved from independent living, to assisted living and then finally to a nursing home.

She was not an easy person to talk with. She could get upset over something out of the blue, and really tell me off. So, when she had to move to the nursing home, and was upset, I knew that when I went to see her, it would be a difficult visit.

On my way to see her, I knew she was going to basically take it out on me and yell at me for as long as I sat with her. So, I decided, that I would sit with her for 30 minutes that day, and no more.

I knew that I could not solve what was upsetting her. She required this level of care, and no amount of explaining was going to change that, I was powerless to fix it. So, I kept my eye on the time, and did the best I could, and mostly listened, said little. Then I gently let her know that I had to go and would
see her again.

This was a little thing, but enormously helpful to me, to limit my time there for this visit. This way, her being upset, did not drain me or get me upset. Dementia will progress, and the thing that mom or dad is talking a lot about today, will eventually be forgotten. It may seem like it won’t, but if you think ahead to 6 months or a year from now, things will be different.

Then do something that can help you to cope in the meantime:
• Limit your visiting time, or how often you go
• Bring another family member or friend along on the visit
• Play the radio in the car, a station that dad likes
• Do they love dogs? Bring your dog on the visit, that can cheer them up.

Whatever little thing that you do to keep your cool when patience wants to leave you, try to remember, you are doing the right thing by your family member.