Frustration and Caring for those Experiencing Cognitive Changes

3 November 2016 - 7 minutes read

Look to your own inner workings to fully understand why you are frustrated and to avoid it from happening in the future

Everyone gets frustrated one way or another, it is only natural and allows us to get things off our chest. Nobody is perfect and you will eventually find yourself in a negative and aggressive conversation with your loved one or might simply find them in an irritable and aggressive mood.

However, frustration may not always be the right reaction to a situation as a caregiver, especially when dealing with someone with a cognitive deficit or brain deterioration disorder. We at Northside have made an easy to understand and follow guide to help you understand and manage any frustration you may experience when taking care of your loved one.

Everyone gets frustrated one way or another, it is only
natural but with the correct thoughts and actions,
frustration can be managed

Understand Frustration

Everyone gets frustrated one way or another, it is only natural but with the correct thoughts and actions, frustration can be managed. Managing and reducing your frustration towards certain behaviours by your loved one will help you to effectively handle these situations and make sure they do not escalate out of control. Frustration comes in many different shapes and forms, it is important to identify when you are frustrated or stressed to then take control of it. Learning the signs and understanding when you need to calm down can be difficult when you are mid conversation but will lead to much more effective communication. Signs range from shortness of breath, headaches and lack of patients to more drastic outcomes such as overeating and desires to lash out at others. When caring for a loved one with a mental disorder it is important to remember that they need specialised treatment and care due to the deterioration of brain cells and cognitive functioning leaving them vulnerable. As these disorders progress, individuals will find it increasingly difficult to think clearly, form memories, communicate, control emotions and simply to take care of themselves.

It can also really help to try to maintain a sense of humour and see
the funny side of all events rather than focusing
solely on the negative.

Control Frustration

The first thing to remember to help control frustration is that it is not always possible to fully understand why people with deterioration disorders act the way they do. Deterioration disorders such as Dementia can lead to issues such as paranoia, aggression, depression and even large changes in personality due to the deterioration of brain cells and loss of cognitive functioning. Try your best to never attribute blame directly to your loved one and understand that they are not trying to make you angry or frustrated on purpose. In these situations you must understand that it is up to you to control and reduce your frustration and not your loved one’s responsibility. You have to look to your own inner workings to fully understand why you are frustrated and to avoid it from happening in the future. It can also really help to try and maintain a sense of humour and see the funny side of all events rather than focusing solely on the negative.

Evaluate your Thoughts

Frustration will quickly take a hold of you if you start to make unhelpful and harmful thought patterns such as over generalisations and jumping to conclusions. Frustration can be avoided by making sure you go over and analyse each situation closely in your head before you take any actions. Here is a quick list of some of the most common thought patterns for you to work towards recognising that can result in frustration situations for both you and your loved one:

  • Over generalising: Start of by comparing the frustrating event with other similar situations to avoid forming a negative bias towards the event. If you start thinking to yourself how everyday your loved one complains about the clothes you pick out for them then you will start to believe it. Try to start thinking about the times they loved your colour choices and the necklace you picked out to balance out your emotions and manage your frustration.
  • Jumping to Conclusions: Remember that your loved one may not be thinking the same way they did last week. Do not start jumping to conclusions and think to yourself that they are doing this just to make you angry. Even if they said they loved the yellow shirt you picked out last week but think it is ugly this week, they might just be having trouble remembering.
  • Personalising Problems: Do not try to attribute blame of a problem solely to yourself in any given situation. By personalising a problem to yourself you are accepting all the blame and responsibility along with it and unnecessarily causing stress and frustration. If your loved one falls over and hurts themselves while you are out on respite, don’t attribute blame to yourself, it could have happened even if you were there.

By John Jeffery

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