Obsessions of those with Dementia.

Started by

My 84 year old client has Vascular Dementia. He has a couple of obsessions, but the most frequent one is that, while he was in the hospital for a stroke (happened in July, but he says "a few weeks ago"), the City came and moved his house and his neighbor's house into their current locations. This is not where he lives, he says all the time when he's in that obsessive mode. He asks me over and over about the City moving those houses, and how it's done, etc. I simply tell him what I know about homes being moved. Sometimes I will tell him about a church I saw moved. Last Friday, I took him on a walk around the house to check the foundation and make sure it looked sound. I finally took him by the arm and said "Do you feel safe here?" which stopped the spiral. Does anyone else have a recurring obsession in your loved one with Dementia?


glad you found a gentle, productive way to deal with it. obsessive behavior is the hardest thing in the world for me . it seems life keeps tossing up new problems so revisiting an old one just drives me nuts. i hope other people on here take note of your resolve.
My dad didn't have dementia but he had hepatic encephalopathy which caused dementia-like symptoms. And yes, he had obsessions.

He was in a nursing home the last 6 months of his life and he became obsessed about people stealing his things. He had no 'things' to steal, nothing of value in his room. He said people came into his room in the middle of the night and rifled through his things. It was this big conspiracy but my dad (in his mind) knew what was going on so they didn't hurt him. I praised him for being on top of things and he was ok for a while. Then he became obsessed with people who were out to get him. Out to kill him. He was afraid. He begged me to believe him and would tell me how scared he was. This went on for 2 months and really wore him down.

You did the exact right thing. You didn't contradict him but you didn't buy into either. Of course you know his house didn't move but that's his reality, to him his house has moved. You treated him with dignity by not trying to tell him that he was imagining things and you didn't insist that what he believe simply was not true.

With my dad, when he became afraid, I told him that I would take care of things. He became afraid for me, afraid someone would hurt me, so I told him that I'd take my brother with me. I didn't argue with him, I didn't try to rationally explain to him that this was all in his mind but I didn't reaffirm this obsession either. I tried to alleviate his fear in any way I could and I thanked him for telling me so that I could take care of it. Any time I told him, "Dad, I'll take care of it. Don't worry a bit." he'd feel better and less anxious.

"Do you feel safe here?" is a wonderful way to handle things in my opinion. And if he says no in the future then take it from there.

You did good.
i gave aunt ednas daughter a little briefing a week or so ago about calming her mothers fears without disputing her madness. a few days later edna told me that " sharon " had been exceptionally sweet for the last few days. hell, whats the point in learning something if you dont use it to help someone else? prob'ly make sharons life a lot easier too..
lol, im already eccentric as hell. when i get old im going to hold out for valium 10's, then give them to my carer in an act of reverse empathy.
Hey Ruth, good to see you... you did the right thing.... they no longer live in our world, what a hateful, cruel disease, so we go to their world, with the same love we have always had...If my reality was that someone moved my house and I was fearful, I would want someone to affirm my feelings and help me to feel safe.... I have worked with Alz/demetia for 15 years... and actually, sometimes their world is better than the one we live in...not the heartbreaking paranoia, not the fear that has no name, but sometimes their memories of the past, that was full of love and freedom for them..... Go to their world, that's all they have left.... you did great,as always.... sending you lots of hugs...
If I was your CG Cap'n, I'd renege on my standards of not taking the patients meds.... I'd take the valium.....and that was said with love, it would be more fun for both of us.... and less work for me...

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support