Imagine having a lovely afternoon with an older loved one with dementia, listening to music and playing a game of cards with each other, when abruptly the person’s mood darkens. When you innocently ask what’s wrong, you receive an angry and surprising response: “I know you stole $20 out of my wallet! Why would you do that to me?”
If this is the first incidence of false allegations from someone with dementia, you may feel as though you are swimming in unfamiliar waters. How will you appropriately correct and reassure the person with dementia while restoring their confidence?
Why False Accusations Happen
To start with, it is important to keep in mind that feelings of delusions and paranoia aren’t personal affronts. They’re symptoms of the illness, and in no way demonstrate the true nature of the individual. They act as a coping mechanism to make sense of something that seems very real in their eyes.
Even while your natural instinct may be to defend yourself, it’s most likely that arguing with the individual will more deeply agitate them. Instead, try these tactics from our experts who provide in-home elderly care in Chicago and the surrounding communities:
- Project a sense of calm. From your tone of voice to your gestures to the environment around you, try everything you can to help reduce the anxiety and tension the individual is experiencing. Use a gentle, soothing tone. Place a reassuring hand on the person’s shoulder or offer a hug, if physical contact is welcomed. Switch off the TV and reduce any other interruptions in the space. Put on some soothing music.
- Respond with brief, straightforward answers. Now is not the time for drawn-out explanations and reasoning. Recognize and validate the individual’s emotions. Then deflect with an engaging activity the person takes pleasure in. As an example, you might say, “I can see you’re feeling upset. Let’s come into the kitchen for some lunch.” Or ask for the person’s help with a meaningful task, such as folding laundry or filing papers.
- Plan in advance. If there’s a specific item that triggers the person into “lose and accuse” mode, purchase one or more additional, identical items to keep around. Then guide them into helping you “find” the alternative to the lost item.
Most importantly of all, make certain you have a very good support system from other individuals who can empathize with what you are dealing with. It can be tremendously upsetting to be falsely accused, even though you recognize the reasoning behind it. Connect with a caregiver support group locally in person, or find a virtual one online that enables you to get more helpful guidance in addition to the opportunity to talk about your stress.
At Inspired Home Care, a trusted provider of in-home care in Chicago and the surrounding areas, our senior care experts are skilled and experienced in the many specifics of dementia care. We are here to work with you to ensure a family member with dementia gets outstanding care while you have plenty of opportunities for downtime and self-care. Reach out to us at 847-787-7572 to learn more.