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How to Respond When You’re Falsely Accused: Alzheimer’s Delusions

caregiver consoling senior woman
Delusions and hallucinations are symptoms of dementia that can be difficult to deal with.

It may come seemingly out of thin air: you put your loved one’s favorite tuna sandwich in front of her – light on the mayo, no onions – something that usually brings her joy. But today, she pushes the plate away and refuses to take a bite, insisting that you have poisoned the sandwich.

Or, you have presented the individual with a meaningful activity that links her to a significant time in her past career, organizing paperwork. Without warning, she charges you with tampering with the documents to steal money from her checking account.

How can you most effectively diffuse situations like these, which are the result of Alzheimer’s delusions or hallucinations?

  1. Keep a controlled, caring, understanding tone. It might be instinctive to become defensive and deny the accusation, but appropriate responses might include something such as, “I realize that you are feeling fearful, but I won’t let anything bad happen to you. Let’s enjoy this food together,” or, “Oh no, have you lost some money? Your bank isn’t open at the moment, but let’s go there immediately tomorrow and get it figured out.”
  2. Move into a welcomed diversion. After sharing in the senior’s concern, shift into a pleasant topic or activity that the senior likes, or move to another area. In the case of the suspected food poisoning, you could engage your loved one in going into the kitchen and helping her prepare a fresh sandwich. If you’ve reassured the person that you will go to the bank together tomorrow, a walk outside to look at the flowers and birds, or playing some favorite music, may help.
  3. Never argue or try to reason. These approaches have a tendency to intensify agitation in someone with Alzheimer’s. It might take some experimentation to formulate the approach that works best, and that approach may need to vary from one day to another. The aim is to stay relaxed, patient, and empathetic, confirming the older adult’s feelings and supplying comfort.

Relevar Home Care’s experts in memory care in Rochester Hills, MI and the surrounding area are highly trained and experienced in creative, effective Alzheimer’s care techniques, and can help with managing challenging behaviors and situations, enabling your loved one to experience an increased quality of life, and providing family caregivers with peace of mind and relief. Contact us today at (888) 493-3513 for additional information or to inquire about some additional resources that will help you better care for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s.