Dementia Delusions: How to Respond to False Accusations
Dementia delusions can come seemingly out of thin air: you place your loved one’s favorite chicken salad sandwich in front of her – light on the mayo, no onions – something she typically enjoys. But today, she pushes the plate away and will not take a bite, insisting that you’ve poisoned the food.
Or, you’ve provided your loved one with a meaningful activity that links her to a significant time in her past career, sorting paperwork. Out of the blue, she accuses you of tampering with the documents in order to steal money from her banking account.
How can you respond to dementia delusions or hallucinations without further agitating the person? Try these strategies:
- Keep a controlled, soothing, understanding tone. It might be instinctive to be defensive and defend yourself against the accusation, but recommended responses to try include something such as, “I see that you are feeling worried, but I won’t let anything bad happen to you. Let’s enjoy this sandwich together,” or, “Oh no, are you missing some money? Your bank is not open currently, but let’s go there first thing tomorrow and get it figured out.”
- Move into a welcomed diversion. After sharing in the older adult’s concern, shift into a pleasant subject or activity that your loved one enjoys, or relocate to another area. With regards to the suspected food poisoning, you can engage the senior in going into the kitchen and helping her prepare a fresh sandwich. If you have reassured your loved one that you’ll stop by the bank together tomorrow, a walk outside to look at the flowers and birds, or playing some favorite music, might help.
- Never argue or try to reason. These tactics are inclined to escalate agitation in someone with dementia. It might take some time and experience to formulate the strategy that is best, and that approach may need to differ from one day to the next. The aim is to stay relaxed, patient, and empathetic, validating the older adult’s feelings and providing comfort.
Hired Hands Homecare’s dementia caregivers are fully trained and experienced in creative, effective Alzheimer’s care techniques, and can assist with managing difficult behaviors and situations like dementia delusions, enabling a senior loved one to experience a greater quality of life, and providing family caregivers with relief and peace of mind. Contact our award-winning experts in home health services in Santa Rosa, CA & nearby areas today at (866) 940-4343. We’ll be happy to provide you with more information and to share some additional resources that will help you better care for a loved one with dementia.