Just imagine having a nice afternoon with a loved one with dementia, listening to music and working on a puzzle with each other, when suddenly the person’s mood darkens. When you innocently ask what’s wrong, you get a sharp and surprising response: “I know you stole my necklace! Why would you do that to me?”
If this is the very first occurrence of false allegations from a loved one with dementia, you may feel as though you’re swimming in unfamiliar waters. How will you appropriately correct and reassure them while recovering their trust?
Why False Claims Occur
First, it is essential to bear in mind that feelings of delusions and paranoia aren’t personal insults. These Alzheimer’s disease behaviors in no way demonstrate the character of the individual. They are a coping mechanism to make sense of something that feels very real to the person.
Although your first instinct might be to defend yourself, it is likely that disagreeing with the person will only more deeply agitate them. Alternatively, try these techniques from our experts who provide in home care in Ellicott City, MD and the surrounding areas:
- Project a sense of calm. From your tone of voice to your mannerisms to the environment around you, do everything you can to decrease the anxiety and tension the person is feeling. Use a soft, comforting voice. Put a reassuring hand on your loved one’s shoulder or offer a hug, if physical contact is welcomed. Shut off the television and limit any other interruptions in the room. Play some soothing music.
- Respond with simple, direct answers. Now is not the time for long explanations and reasoning. Acknowledge and affirm the individual’s emotions. Then distract with an interesting activity the person likes. For instance, you might say, “I can tell you’re feeling angry. Let’s go to the kitchen and have a snack.” Or enlist the person’s assistance with a meaningful chore, such as folding laundry or filing papers.
- Be Prepared. If there is a certain item that triggers the person with dementia into “lose and accuse” mode, purchase one or more additional, identical items to keep with you. Then guide the person with dementia into helping you “find” the alternative to the missing item.
Above all, make sure you have a very good support system from others who can empathize with what you are dealing with. It can be incredibly painful to be wrongly accused, even when you recognize the reasoning behind it. Connect with a caregiver support group locally in person, or find a virtual one online where you are able to receive more useful guidance and the opportunity to vent your frustrations.
At Home With You Senior Care, a provider of in-home care in Ellicott City, MD and the surrounding areas, our caregivers are skilled and experienced in the numerous complexities of dementia care. We’re here to partner with you to ensure a loved one with dementia receives outstanding care while you have plenty of opportunities for downtime and self-care. Reach out to us at 410-756-0959 for more information.