Imagine having a fantastic afternoon with your family member with dementia, listening to music and working on a puzzle with each other, when all of a sudden the person’s mood darkens. When you innocently ask what is wrong, you receive a sharp and surprising response: “I know you stole money from me! How could you do that to me?”
If this is the first incidence of false accusations 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?
Why False Accusations Happen
To start with, it is vital to keep in mind that feelings of delusions and paranoia are not personal insults. They’re outward indications of the disease, and in no way reflect the true nature of the senior. They function as a coping mechanism to help the person make sense of something that seems very real in their eyes.
Although your natural reaction might be to defend your innocence, it is likely that disagreeing with the person will only further frustrate them. Alternatively, try these tactics from our providers of care for dementia in Portland, TX and surrounding areas:
- Project a sense of calm. From the tone of your voice to your gestures to the environment around you, do everything you can to lessen the agitation and stress the individual is experiencing. Use a soft, calming voice. Place a reassuring hand on the person’s shoulder or offer a hug, if physical contact is welcomed. Turn off the television and minimize any other disturbances in the room. Turn on some calming music.
- Respond with simple, direct answers. Now is not the best time for long explanations and reasoning. Recognize and validate the person’s emotions. Then distract with an engaging activity the person likes. For example, you might say, “I can tell you are upset. Let’s come into the kitchen and have some lunch.” Or enlist the person’s assistance with an important chore, such as folding laundry or filing papers.
- Plan ahead. If there is a certain object that triggers the person into “lose and accuse” mode, buy one or more additional, identical items to keep on hand. Then guide the them into assisting you to “find” the alternative to the missing item.
Most of all, ensure you have a good system of support from other people who can empathize with what you are dealing with. It can be very painful to be wrongly accused, even if you recognize the reasoning behind it. Join a caregiver support group in your area in person, or find a virtual one online that enables you to receive further practical advice in addition to opportunities to vent your stress.
At Anthem Home Care, a provider of care for dementia in Portland, TX and the surrounding communities, our caregivers are fully trained and experienced in the many particulars of dementia care. We’re here to work with you to make sure a loved one with dementia receives top-quality care while you have plenty of opportunities for personal time and self-care. Contact us at 361-643-2323 to learn more.