Just imagine having a nice afternoon with a loved one who has dementia, listening to music and playing a game of cards together, when suddenly the person’s mood darkens. When you innocently ask what is wrong, you receive a forceful and unexpected response: “I know you took my favorite ring! Why would you do that?”
If this is the first incidence of being falsely accused by a person with dementia, chances are you’ll feel as though you’re stumbling into uncharted territory. How can you appropriately correct and reassure the person while recovering their trust?
Why Untrue Allegations Happen
First, it is important to bear in mind that feelings of paranoia and delusions aren’t personal insults. They’re signs and symptoms of the illness, and in no way demonstrate the true personality of the individual with dementia. They serve as a coping mechanism to help make sense of something that seems very real to the person.
While your natural instinct may be to defend your innocence, it’s probable that arguing with the individual will only continue to frustrate them. Instead, try these techniques from our experts in home care in Bow, NH and the surrounding areas:
- Exude a sense of calm. From your tone of voice to your nonverbal communication to your environment, try everything you can to decrease the anxiety and stress the person is experiencing. Use a gentle, calming voice. Place a reassuring hand on the person’s shoulder or offer a hug, if physical contact is welcomed. Turn off the TV and minimize any other disruptions in the space. Put on some comforting music.
- Respond with brief, direct answers. Now is not the time for drawn-out arguments and reasoning. Acknowledge and validate the person’s feelings. Then distract with an interesting activity the person takes pleasure in. For example, you might say, “I can tell you’re upset. Let’s go to the kitchen for some lunch.” Or ask for the person’s assistance with an important chore, like folding laundry or filing papers.
- Make plans ahead of time. If there is a particular object that triggers the person into “lose and accuse” mode, purchase one or more additional, identical items to keep readily available. Then guide the individual with dementia into helping you “find” the replacement for the missing item.
Most importantly of all, make sure you have a strong system of support from others who can empathize with what you’re going through. It can be tremendously upsetting to be wrongly accused, even when you understand the reasoning behind it. Connect with a caregiver support group in your area in person, or find a virtual one online where you can receive more helpful guidance in addition to the possibility to talk about your frustrations.
At Live Free Home Health Care, a trusted provider of home care in Bow, NH and nearby communities, our care providers are fully trained and experienced in the numerous intricacies of dementia care. We’re here to work with you to ensure a family member with dementia gets top-quality care while you have plenty of opportunities for downtime and self-care. Give us a call at 603-217-0149 for more information.