Imagine having a nice afternoon with a family member with dementia, listening to music and working on a puzzle together, when suddenly the person’s mood darkens. When you innocently ask what is wrong, you get a sharp and unexpected reply: “I know you stole money from me! How could you do that to me?”
If this is the first incidence of coping with false allegations from a loved one with dementia, you may feel as though you’re swimming in unfamiliar waters. How can you appropriately correct and reassure the individual while recovering their trust?
Coping with False Allegations: Why They Occur
First, it’s essential to bear in mind that feelings of paranoia and delusions aren’t personal affronts. They’re signs and symptoms of the disease, and in no way demonstrate the true nature of the individual. They act as a coping mechanism to help make sense of something that seems very real to them.
Even while your initial impulse may perhaps be to defend your innocence, it is likely that disagreeing with the person will only bring about more agitation. As an alternative, try these strategies from our providers of in-home care in Overland Park, KS and the surrounding areas:
- Project a sense of calm. From your tone of voice to your mannerisms to the environment around you, try everything you can to lessen the agitation and stress the person is experiencing. Use a gentle, comforting tone. Put a reassuring hand on his or her shoulder or offer a hug, if physical contact is welcomed. Switch off the TV and reduce any other disturbances in the room. Put on some calming music.
- Respond with short, straightforward answers. Now is not the best time for drawn-out explanations and reasoning. Acknowledge and validate the individual’s emotions. Then deflect with an engaging activity the person likes. For instance, you might say, “I can see you’re feeling frustrated. Let’s go to the kitchen and have some lunch.” Or ask for the person’s help with an important task, such as folding laundry or drying dishes.
- Prepare in advance. If there’s a certain object that triggers the person into “lose and accuse” mode, purchase one or more additional, identical items to keep with you. Then guide the individual into helping you “find” the replacement for the missing item.
Most importantly, make certain you have a good support system from other individuals who can empathize with what you are dealing with. It can be incredibly hurtful to be wrongly accused, even though you know the reasoning behind it. Connect with a caregiver support group in your area in person, or find a virtual one online where you can get further useful guidance and the chance to vent your stress.
Need more tips for coping with false allegations from a loved one with dementia? At Hearts at Home In-Home Care, experts in in-home care in Overland Park, KS and the surrounding areas, our caregivers are fully trained and experienced in the many complexities of dementia care. We are here to work with you to make sure a family member with dementia receives top-quality care while you have plenty of opportunities for downtime and self-care. Give us a call at 913-440-4209 to find out more.