Illness and disability affect everyone differently.  As a caregiver, you may find it challenging dealing with your loved one as they become anxious, resistant, or demanding.   You can’t always control the other person’s behavior but you can control your response to it.

Avoid blaming the bad behavior on personality or condemning the person.  You may be unintentionally escalating a situation.  Do not take the behavior personally and do not down play any feelings.  Try to find something to agree on.   Offer reassurance and give privacy and personal space.

Do your best to examine the behavior objectively.  If you can recognize the reasons a person is being difficult, you can then learn methods for coping with the difficult behavior. To recognize why a person is being difficult, look for patterns to the behavior.  Something specific may have triggered the behavior.  Once you find the pattern to the behavior, try to break that pattern and choose your battles.

A caregiver cannot change a person but you can use strategies to modify or better accommodate any issue at hand.  The environment you create and the way you communicate will make a significant difference.  Validate your loved one’s feelings and let them know you understand they are upset and you want to help.  Be accepting and look for opportunities to agree.  Remember that these behaviors do not define the person.

-Nicole B., community educator