A person with dementia can experience a series of personality changes. Depending on the type of dementia, these changes include a lack of empathy. This can mean not understanding people’s feelings as well as sharing in those feelings. It is a hallmark in those with behavioural-variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) but it can also occur in those with younger onset dementia.
If you are a caregiver of a parent with dementia, this change can be particularly jarring. It can also put you in embarrassing situations in public when your loved one acts out of character. Moreover, it can cause a lot of tension in relationships — especially in parent-child relationships. However, there are ways to diffuse this situation.
How To Handle A Lack Of Empathy In Dementia Patients:
To date, there is not a lot of research on how to deal with a lack of empathy in dementia patients. Conversely, there are a lot of holistic methods that discuss how caregivers can use empathy when dealing with dementia patients. More research is needed in this area to better equip caregivers and family members to deal with this particular change.
Knowledge Is Key
If your loved one is displaying a lack of empathy, it may be quite unnerving at first. However, you may feel more acceptance knowing that the lack of empathy is the result of brain changes and not a lack of empathy itself. In this way, it is not exactly a personality change as it is the result of changes to the brain in those with behavioural-variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD).
Don’t Take It Personally
It is important to recognize that the patient has no control over this symptom and that you should not take it personally. By doing so, you will find yourself much better emotionally equipped to handle these changes. Not taking this personally will help prevent you from reacting out of anger or holding on to hostile emotions such as resentment at your parent’s failure to acknowledge your effort.
A Support Network Is Imperative
Not understanding who your parent is anymore can be very painful. It can leave you feeling lonely knowing that your relationship has changed. It is important to not only surround yourself with friends and family, but if you are also a caregiver for your parent, know that it may be beneficial to seek outside help. Caregiver burnout is a very real thing with particularly acute symptoms and it can be beneficial for all involved to relieve some of the burden.
Prepare Ahead For Social Situations
If you have experienced embarrassing social situations in public where inappropriate comments have been made, it can be a good idea to make cards to hand out to others that read “Please excuse my family member. He or she has dementia, which can cause him or her to say things he normally wouldn’t. Our apologies.”
Caregivers and dementia patients alike can greatly benefit from personalized care. C-Care Health Services offers a variety of affordable, personalized and high quality services. Contact us today for more.