Mood swings can be a sign of early dementia or a mental health issue. If this is a new behavior, it is important your loved one be thoroughly assessed by a medical doctor.

If your loved one does not have dementia or some other medical condition that is causing these mood swings, it might be time to step back and have a conversation with this person directly about what’s going on.

Take time to get in touch emotionally with what it might be like for this person to be on the receiving end of care. It can be very challenging to be a caregiver. At the same time, it’s not easy to accept the fact that we need care. He or she may be feeling a fair bit of sadness or anxiety about losing theier independence. This in turn can show up as irritability or crankiness.

It might help to open the conversation by saying that it must be hard not being able to do things by oneself. Listen sympathetically. Let your loved one know that your goal is to do everything you can to help him or her live independently for as long as possible.

Discuss how and when your loved one would like you to offer help and when he or she would prefer to do things for him or herself. Talk about how you would like to speak to each other. Tell him or her how you would like to remember this period of your life. Share your feelings about how it feels to be treated with respect. Try to avoid saying anything that could make this person feel defensive. By the end of the conversation, the goal is for the two of you to feel that you are a team.

Helping your loved one to get in touch with the emotions that lie beneath the rudeness that’s on the surface may bring you both relief. It’s possible that one conversation may bring about a noticeable change. It is also possible that there might be some backsliding. Be prepared for this. Gently remind your loved one about the talk you had, and try not to react emotionally.