Keep your cool: dealing with demanding patients
word cloud with words about stress

Not every patient is easy to care for.

How can caregivers keep their cool when dealing with demanding patients?

Here are tips from both family caregivers and professional caregivers on how you can keep your patience when dealing with difficult patients:

A deep breath, a smile, and to know when to just walk away. – Brenda M.

Selective hearing! – Betty S.

Distraction, humor, patience…and lots of love. – Cathy K.

Having a close friend to talk about frustrations helps me. – Jennifer C.

Remember it’s usually their disease and not their real personality. – Bruce R.

I try to picture them as children. Once you’ve made the visual you will find a wealth of compassion and patience. – Jodonna C.L.

I ask them questions about their childhood or whatever and they get talking and forget what they were whining about…sometimes. – Carol A.

I will ask them if they are in pain, not sleeping well, family problems…I probe to find them problem. If a client asks why I’m asking, I explain that their behavior isn’t common and I’m trying to solve their problem. I treat them respectfully, as an adult. Heidi L.

I tell [my daughter] straight up when she goes out of her way at times to pluck my last nerve. We have to tell it like it is with each other. If I couldn’t be honest about the difficulties of our situation it would be harder to continue doing this. She is honest with me as well. – Patricia W.

Giving them something to do with their hands or that they have to pay attention to will get them unstuck from being whiny and difficult. – Cathy K.

Remind yourself that the man upstairs is very patient with us all. – Stacy S.

Sing a song and keep smiling…before too long the shift is over. – Brenda G.

I try to remember that my son has no words and can’t express what’s happening or bothering him. I have a list that I run down just like you do with a baby – clean diaper, hunger, teeth, and now I’ve had to add puberty/hormonal. If everything seems OK, we take him for a walk or a car ride. Sometimes I will get him to sit with me on the floor and yell right along with him. If this doesn’t work, the last resort is getting him to his room and closing the door for a couple of minutes. – Lisa K.G.

Written by Cori Carl
As Director, Cori is an active member of the community and regularly creates resources for people providing care.

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  1. Jessica Neumann you and I probably could use this….

  2. Things are much better now but I used to tell my husband “I am not the enemy, I am your best friend ” he understood that..
    I recite poetry to him .. We both enjoy that .. We both write poetry so I recite his and mine ..
    He had his stroke in 2007 and several other major health issues..
    We have been married 53 years

  3. I have no patience left. My husband is 67 and has had Alzheimer’s 5 years. I’m tired and cranky and by 5 PM I’m ready to run away. Every day.

  4. What if your with them 24/7? I love her, I love my dad, I’ve been doing this 10 years…I’m tired.

  5. my mom lives with us and is very narcistic and my mother I law died this am. My mom is being so demanding over trival tuff because I am on the phone dealing with my i laws family. I really want to say something but don’t wAnt tomorrow to be worst than today! Bedtime please come soon!

  6. I always try to remember the chance are we are not seeing people at their best. They generally don’t want to show weakness or suffering to loved ones, so care givers end up being a sounding board. Remember, it is never personal, allow it to happen, try to assist and let it go.

  7. Ive been taking care of both parents for 5 yrs Alzheimer’s/Dementia for both. My dad just passed a couple of weeks ago,, during his time he turn real nice. Now my mom is another story,; she was the sweetest woman my rock now nasty and I’m the enemy. I know I’ve already lost my mom,, this all the Dementia. Im the only siblings,; I have aid/nurses but its never enough. I have MD/MG and Leukemia, ,, im so tired burned out. I just dont know what to do,, I want to run far away.

  8. Don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t allow yourself to be run into the ground or be abused. That is a huge warning sign that should never be ignored. I know more than one caregiver whose family member with dementia tried to kill them.
    Take time for yourself. That’s not a crime…in fact it’s vitally important to prevent burn out.


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