Just picture having a nice afternoon with your family member with dementia, listening to music and playing a game of cards, when out of the blue the person’s mood darkens. When you innocently ask what’s wrong, you receive a forceful and surprising response: “I know you stole money from me! Why would you do that?”
If this is the very first incidence of being unjustly accused by a person with dementia, you may feel as though you’re stumbling into uncharted territory. How will you best correct and reassure the individual while restoring their confidence?
Why Untrue Allegations Manifest
First, it is important to keep in mind that feelings of paranoia and delusions are not personal affronts. They’re outward indications of the illness, and in no way demonstrate the true personality of the individual. They serve as a coping mechanism to make sense of something that seems very real in their eyes.
Even though your natural instinct may be to defend yourself, it is likely that arguing with the person will only further frustrate them. As an alternative, try these strategies from our experts in home care in Collinsville, IL and the nearby areas:
- Exude a sense of calm. From your tone of voice to your body language to the environment around you, try everything you can to lessen the agitation and stress the person is experiencing. Use a soft, soothing voice. Put a reassuring hand on the person’s shoulder or offer a hug, if physical contact is welcomed. Shut off the television and reduce any other disruptions. Play some calming music.
- Respond with brief, direct answers. Now is not the time for drawn-out arguments and reasoning. Acknowledge and validate the person’s feelings. Then divert with an interesting activity the person enjoys. For example, you might say, “I can see you’re upset. Let’s go into the kitchen and have some lunch.” Or enlist the person’s help with a meaningful task, like folding laundry or filing papers.
- Plan ahead. If there is a specific item that triggers the senior into “lose and accuse” mode, purchase one or more additional, identical items to keep on hand. Then guide the individual into helping you “find” the alternative to the lost item.
Most importantly of all, ensure you have a strong support system from others who can empathize with what you’re dealing with. It can be very upsetting to be falsely accused, even when you know the reasoning behind it. Join a caregiver support group locally in person, or find a virtual one online that enables you to receive more useful advice and the chance to talk about your stress.
At Morning Glory Home Care, a trusted provider of home care in Collinsville, IL and the surrounding areas, our care providers are skilled and experienced in the countless complexities of dementia care. We’re here to work with you to make certain a loved one with dementia gets excellent care while you have plenty of chances for downtime and self-care. Give us a call at 618-667-8400 for more information.