I'm finding I have to learn how to speak to Mom, who I think has dementia, now after 60+ years...

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She's in her mid 90's and in an assisted living facility. She's obessed with things missing (stolen then returned sometimes) ..now tonight she said she got sick at dinner and 'they put something in my food'..I just don't know how to deal with this and I find I don't say the right things and she gets upset with me because I don't believe her. I think she has dimentia tho' no official diagnosis but has been on meds for a couple of years..doctor hasn't officially said it. Don't know how to respond when she makes these accusations. I'm told there's no way to change her mind that she believes what she believes and no amount of talking can convince her otherwise..

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Thanks, Jeanne. I know you are right, but sometimes I question if I am being heartless. Kukla77- my mom had vascular dementia at a young age (60). When she would be in her own world, my Dad would try to reason with her to ibring her back. It really frustrated and saddened him. Of course, she was really young for this, so it was tragic. My sisters and I just went along with her. Sometimes it was funny to play along (like when she was convinced my single sister had adopted a baby). Other times, it was very touching. We could tell the friends and family who were important to her because she would think she had seen them or that they had been there. Then there were the times that were really tough. She would get so mad sometimes and accuse us of all kinds of stuff. It felt like we were kids again. Of course, we were grown women and we knew this had nothing to do with us. We just endured it. It is a hard thing to watch someone you love slip away. I am very sorry you are going through this with her.
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MyWitsEnd, I'm not any kind of expert on these matters. In my opinion it is a mistake to bring an elder who has a history of being mean to children into a home where there are children. No matter how mature and secure your son is, expecting a mid-teen to thrive on being served up criticism with every meal and to let accusations roll off his back is just not realistic. How can this not be unhealthy for him?

If indeed your MIL has dementia then I agree it it pointless to argue with her. But it is also very damaging not to defend your son.

I think you need to make other arrangements for her.
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So, Jeanne, I have a question for you. My 85 yr old MIL is, and really always has been, obsessed with food. She is very tiny, but food is her thing. She has been living with us 5 months. The last six weeks or so, she is accusing our teen son ofvstealing her food. This weekend he really did eat a couple of rolls she apparently wanted for herself. But other times, it has been food he wouldn't eat. He is very honest. So, when he says he ate the rolls, but not the raviolis- I believe him. My husband will argue with her that she is wrong. I think this is pointless. My own mother had vascular dementia. You are just frustraing you both by arguing. Still, she is very hateful towards our son over the food thing. She also snaps at him at the table that he is eating too much, like she is afraid there won't be any for her. He is very thin, by the way. So, my question is, how do you manage it when this world of theirs becomes negative for others? In our case, because our son is a minor and this is his home, I think we need to find othervarrangements for her. I will admit, she has always been very mean, especially towards children. So, I can't always separate what is classic her, and what is going on in her head. (She refuses to seeva doctor, btw.)
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There's no way to change her mind that she believes what she believes and no amount of talking can convince her otherwise.

People with dementia live in their own worlds. It is generally more successful to enter into their world than to expect them to come into ours. Misplacing things or even hiding them and then forgetting that and accusing someone of stealing them is VERY common in some kinds of dementia. For that matter, having things stolen in a facility is not unheard of, either. Another resident may simply think it belongs to them, or may have lost the concept of ownership entirely. Trying to convince Mom that the item hasn't been stolen is pointless. The goal should be to comfort her and make her feel valued. "Oh Mom, that is really too bad your nice hairbrush is missing. I know how much you like it. Let me try looking for it for you, just in case it got misplaced or someone took it, realized their mistake, and brought it back." Do a thorough search. If you find it, be glad. Resist saying "I told you so." If you can't find it and it something that can be easily replaced, just replace it.

You may discover that Mom has a few favorite hiding places, and once you know them it isn't so hard to find missing items.

"Oh my goodness! I am so sorry you got sick at dinner. Are you feeling all right now? Can I get you some ginger ale?" Try to avoid commenting on the "someone put something in my food" accusation.

And remember, just as your mother may have "undiagnosed" dementia, so may other residents. Sometimes when she says someone took something or was mean to her, she may be absolutely right. (And she may sometimes have something that does not belong to her.) Don't tell her the accusations are wrong, but try to get beyond them to find or replace the item or to make her feel that you take her seriously and care about her.

A book you may find useful is "Creating Moments of Joy," by Jolene Brackey.

And don't feel bad if you don't always come up with the "right" answer ... sometimes there is no right answer and we just stumble through this as best we can.
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