Just picture having a pleasant afternoon with a family member with dementia, listening to music and working on a puzzle with each other, when out of the blue the person’s mood darkens. When you innocently ask what’s wrong, you receive a sharp and unexpected reply: “I know you stole $20 out of my wallet! Why would you do that to me?”
If this is the first occurrence of false claims from a senior who has dementia, chances are you’ll feel as though you’re swimming in unfamiliar waters. How can you best correct and reassure the individual while recovering their confidence?
Why False Claims Manifest
First, it’s important to keep in mind that feelings of delusions and paranoia are not personal affronts. They are signs of the illness, and in no way demonstrate the true nature of the person. They function as a coping mechanism when a senior has dementia to make sense of something that appears very real to the person.
Although your natural reaction might be to defend your innocence, it’s likely that arguing with the individual will only create more agitation. As an alternative, try these strategies from our experts who provide non-medical home care in Townonson, MD and the surrounding areas:
- Keep a sense of calm. From your tone of voice to your nonverbal communication to the environment around you, try everything you can to decrease the agitation and tension the senior is experiencing. Use a gentle, calming tone. Put a reassuring hand on the senior’s shoulder or offer a hug, if physical contact is welcomed. Shut off the TV and reduce any other disturbances in the room. Put on some relaxing music.
- Respond with brief, straightforward answers. Now is not a good time for drawn-out arguments and reasoning. Recognize and confirm the person’s feelings. Then divert with an interesting activity the person enjoys. For instance, you might say, “I can tell you’re feeling upset. Let’s go to the kitchen and have a snack.” Or enlist the person’s assistance with a meaningful job, such as folding laundry or drying dishes.
- Be prepared. If there is a specific object that triggers the person into “lose and accuse” mode, purchase one or more extra, identical items to keep with you. Then guide the individual into helping you “find” the alternative to the missing item.
Most importantly of all, make certain you have a strong system of support from other individuals who can empathize with what you are dealing with. It can be very upsetting to be wrongly accused, even though you know the reasoning behind it. Join a caregiver support group locally in person, or find a virtual one online where you can receive additional useful guidance and the possibility to vent your frustrations.
At Absolute Companion Care, a trusted provider of non-medical home care in Towson, MD and nearby areas, our caregivers are fully trained and experienced in the numerous intricacies of dementia care. We’re here to partner with you to make certain a family member with dementia gets outstanding care while you have plenty of chances for downtime and self-care. Call us at 410-357-9640 to find out more.