Envision having a fantastic afternoon with your family member with dementia, listening to music and playing a game of cards together, when out of the blue the person’s mood darkens. When you innocently ask what’s wrong, you receive a forceful and unexpected reply: “I know you took my scarf! How could you do that to me?”
If this is the first occurrence of false claims from a loved one with dementia, you may feel as though you are swimming in unfamiliar waters. How can you best manage false accusations and reassure the person while recovering their trust?
Why Untrue Accusations Manifest
First, it is important to bear in mind that delusions and paranoia should not be taken as personal insults. These are symptoms of the condition of dementia, and in no way reflect the character of the person. They are a coping mechanism to make sense of something that appears very real in their eyes.
Even while your natural reaction may be to defend your innocence, it’s likely that arguing with the individual will only continue to agitate them. Alternatively, try these tactics from our experts who provide care at home in Denver and nearby areas to help manage false accusations:
- Maintain a sense of calm. From your tone of voice to your nonverbal communication to the environment around you, try everything you can to minimize the anxiety and stress the person is experiencing. Use a soft, calming voice. Put 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 interruptions in the room. Put on some calming music.
- Respond with simple, straightforward answers. Now is not the best time for drawn-out explanations and reasoning. Acknowledge and validate the individual’s emotions. Then divert with an interesting activity the person takes pleasure in. For instance, you might say, “I can see you are feeling upset. Let’s come into the kitchen for a snack.” Or enlist the person’s help with a meaningful job, such as folding laundry or filing papers.
- Plan in advance. If there’s a particular item that triggers the person into “lose and accuse” mode, buy one or more additional, identical items to keep around. Then guide the person into helping you “find” the alternative to the missing item.
Most importantly of all, make sure you have a very good support system from other people who can empathize with what you are dealing with. It can be incredibly hurtful to be wrongly accused, even though you know the reasoning behind it. Connect with a caregiver support group in your area in person, or find a virtual one online where you can get more useful advice and the opportunity to talk about your stress.
At Abby Senior Care, our experts provide care at home in Denver and the surrounding communities, and are fully trained and experienced in the countless complexities of dementia care. We are here to work with you to ensure a loved one with dementia gets top-quality care while you have plenty of opportunities for downtime and self-care. Give us a call at 303-699-8840 to find out more.