Early on, when I knew something was wrong with my Mom’s thinking, but there was no medical diagnosis and my siblings didn’t see it was the most challenging. I would try to point out my Mom’s inconsistencies or “incorrect” memories to help here see that something was not right with her brain. That NEVER went well.
She would just get angry with me and a fight would erupt.
What I would learn years later is that a high percentage of individuals that have a stroke have Anosognosia which is a deficit of self-awareness; a condition in which a person with some disability seems unaware of its existence. Mom had a minor stroke that left no physical reminders, but impacting her cognitive abilities. But she could not recognize it.
I eventually learned that the attitude I arrived with when I visited my Mom was quickly absorbed and returned. If she was in a cantankerous mood and I found myself loosing my cool, I would excuse myself to get a drink, take a few deep breaths, or go to the bathroom — anything to break the pattern of where we were. Eventually, she would usually transition to calm.
On those days that I arrived stressed or frustrated, I would only feed her anxiety. It took me a while to practice and get it right, but I learned how to better meet my Mom where she was … and even help her find calm on those days that her dementia wanted to take her elsewhere. Learned.