People with dementia always win arguments

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You can’t argue with someone who has dementia. Well, you can, but you are going to lose.

Merle’s daughter comes to visit her frequently, but argues with Merle as if repeating herself is going to make her mother understand.

“No, mommy!” Rebecca cried out. “I told you, we aren’t going to see daddy, we are going to the eye doctor!”

At times it feels like Rebecca is even more confused than her mother with dementia. She often whispers to the staff, “My dad has been dead for years!” as if we don’t know that already. 

It’s okay that Merle thinks her husband is alive. It’s okay that she can’t remember where she is going next or what she had for breakfast. 

As I tell the families I talk to,_ let your loved ones with dementia believe what they believe_. Arguing, correcting, and repeating your points will convince them of nothing.

Rebecca’s increased annoyance, repetition, and arguments with her mother only seeks to annoy the older woman. 

“Walk straighter,” Merle scolded her daughter. “You’re slouching.”

Merle may be confused, but she’s still Rebecca’s mother.

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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