Just picture having an enjoyable afternoon with a family member with dementia, listening to music and playing a game of cards with each other, when all of a sudden the person’s mood darkens. When you innocently ask what is wrong, you get a sharp and unexpected response: “I know you took my favorite book! Why would you do that to me?”
If this is the first incidence of untrue accusations from a relative with dementia, you may feel as though you are stumbling into uncharted territory. How can you appropriately correct and reassure the loved one while recovering their trust?
Why Untrue Accusations Happen
To start with, it’s important to remember that feelings of paranoia and delusions are not personal insults. They are symptoms of the disease, and in no way demonstrate the character of the person you love. They function as a coping mechanism to help make sense of something that appears very real in their eyes.
Even while your natural impulse might be to defend your innocence, it is most likely that arguing with the person will only continue to agitate them. As an alternative, try these strategies from our experts in memory care in Topeka, KS and the surrounding areas:
- Maintain a sense of calm. From your tone to your nonverbal communication to the environment around you, try everything you can to decrease the agitation and tension the person is feeling. Use a soft, soothing tone. Place a reassuring hand on their shoulder or offer a hug, if physical contact is welcomed. Turn off the television and reduce any other disruptions in the space. Put on some relaxing music.
- Respond with brief, straightforward answers. Now is not the time for drawn-out arguments and reasoning. Recognize and confirm the individual’s emotions. Then divert with an engaging activity the person enjoys. For example, you might say, “I can tell you are upset. Let’s go to the kitchen for some lunch.” Or ask for the person’s help with an important task, like folding laundry or drying dishes.
- Plan ahead. If there’s a certain object that triggers the person into “lose and accuse” mode, buy one or more extra, identical items to keep with you. Then guide the individual into assisting you to “find” the alternative to the missing item.
Most importantly, make certain you have a strong support system from other people who can empathize with what you’re going through. It can be tremendously painful to be falsely accused, even when you know the reasoning behind it. Join a caregiver support group in your area in person, or find a virtual one online where you are able to get further helpful advice in addition to the opportunity to vent your frustrations.
At Grace Home Care, a trusted provider of memory care in Topeka, KS our caregivers are skilled and experienced in the many particulars of dementia care. We are here to partner with you to ensure a loved one with dementia gets outstanding care while you have plenty of opportunities for down time and self-care. Reach out to us at 785-286-2273 to learn more.