BDNF Asked July 2010

My mother-in-law recently started telling other family members that I've been stealing from her. This has left me perplexed, saddened and hurt. I would never do such a thing. What's the best course of action in this situation?

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My mother-in-law (80 yrs old) has recently started telling other family members that I have been stealing from her. Her second theory is that I have been playing "mind games" with her and have been hiding various objects from her. This has left me perplexed, saddened, and hurt. I would never do such a thing. Ever. She has always been a bit paranoid, but this is accusation is completely absurd. We have been been very close over the years, but now I just sit in the car or walk around the yard when my wife visits. What is the best course of action in this situation? Is this the beginnings of dementia? How do I handle this. My wife suggests that we just let things take their course...
But I hate that she perceives me as some kind of malicious fiend.

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susanT8403 Jul 2010
Everybody so far hit this one right on the head! Before my mother was actually diagnosed with PSP, she was always in pain from rotary cuff surgery, and that medication made her extremely paranoid, she used to think I was cashing checks, hiding things from her like towels and soaps, clothing, other people like the neighbors were also in cahoots with me, it was awefully embarrassing,. come to find out that the percocet they were giving her was way too much and really sent her for a loop! paranoid is way to mild a word for how she behaved, she wanted no one around her at all, accused even the cable repair people of stealing stuff, coats, (in florida no less) and just off the wall stuff, but before she got diagnosed with PSP everyone thought it wa alzheimers because of this behavior alone............ It really hurt me too, because with my mother all u have to do is ask her, and she would be some more than willing to do just that!! give me whatever I needed or wanted............always the generous, and if she had it, she wanted to make sure I did as well. But some days did get really out of hand, and almost sent me right over the edge! I told her point blank that If I wanted to steal from her it would have been throughout my whole life, and that i respected her way too much for this kind of behavior. It eventually stopped after burning almost everyones bridge that she had............people were just afraid to spend time with her and even went so far as to not wanted to be along with her period! THATS DIFFICULT, BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE~,she woud arrange it, anyway she could before it began as a soap opera again...............really sad, and frustrationg to watch her burning up her bridges, and distancing people from her! And coming from my owm mom made it even harder to deal with! thank god, for him and his cure sense of humor at times, as it truly made me feel so untrustworthtly, and walked on egg shells for a very long time, even afrer this stuff would happen!, it has been over a year now since that stuff started and just went away like it came.............just like opeing and closing a window, I kept reminding her what the other person would feel if they knew she felt that way, I think that may have brought it back into perspective for her,,,,, I dont know, and am just grateful that , that part or her behfavior, is now wiped out! hopefully some of ttje afrer. and sometimes even get a few good laughs out of them! strange I would say! evem a[[rer she ate. someone inhaled her bread!. so p;ease as far as I am concerned try not to put too much importance on this kind of stuff, as they say : This to shall pass" hopefully! and try to manipulate for now dear , anyway I did try to spell it out as completely could hpe u were able t get somethimg ut of all this stuff I said, Just one sentence would be ok with me! good luck, and keep us posted!
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ezcare Jul 2010
Has your MIL been diagnosed with either Dementia or Alzheimer's? If not YOU must urge your wife to set up the appointment and inform the doctor herself why she is requesting an evaluation. Believe me--most dementia and Alz patients can and will act very normal when they know what kind of behavior is expected of them. Most family doctors have neither the time nor the training to diagnose Alz unless their patient is brought in by a family member for that specific purpose. So that is the first and most important step. If she has the onset of Dementia, the sooner it is diagnosed the better chance she has of being properly treated. Some forms of Dementia can be reversed and some Alzheimer's patients respond well enough to the new drugs that they can slow down the progression of the disease before it progresses to the final stages. So do not waste time trying to deal with the accusations or trying to appease other family members. They are not likely to believe you if they are in denial. And if Dementia is ruled out, then letting your wife visit your MIL without you is probably the best solution for all concerned.
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Jsomebody Jul 2010
I am sorry to hear about this, it sounds very unpleasant. I do not have any experience with it, but I would say keep communication lines open and aboveboard and talk to others about it, it may continue and increase to include others as well. It sounds like it is a common problem for many looking after aging parents. Try to remember it is the disease talking not the person.
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Hi
My mom also suffers from dementia and I have been accused of a variety of foul deeds. I have found that prayer, attaching the accusations to her disease as well as telling my siblings about this has helped immensely. I never know from day to day what Mom will say next; it is a challenge, and it can really be a downer. Just stay focused on the fact that she is ill and talk about it with your wife or whomever you feel especially close to.
Best Wishes
Mimara
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anne123 Jul 2010
Yes, I've heard about this too. I knew an elderly woman who began accusing her long-time cleaning lady of stealing from her. Previously, she and the cleaning lady had had a great relationship, and then all of a sudden this woman began getting paranoid and accusing her cleaning lady of stealing from her. It was her brain aging. So try not to take your MIL's accusations personally, because she really doesn't mean it......it's just that she's getting really old. I would, however, alert other members of the family of the change you've noticed in her mental function.
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Elizza Jul 2010
I agree that this is a common accusation of people with dementia. But not everyone knows that. I would add to the above comments: talk with the family members that are being told this accusation. Find out how they feel about it so you can address it right now while it is a small thing (and it may never get any larger) If they have any concerns at all, they may appreciate the opportunity to talk about it.
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ksue5036 Jul 2010
This can be from Alz's . My mom did the same thing and so did my Mother-in-law. I think if your wife is ok with it than you should be too. The most important thing is that your wife believes you and if it upsets your MIL when you are there it is better that you stay away I think. Because if it is Alz's. It will not get better most likely. But your wife can keep telling her that you are not and that you love her that might make your MIL feel better.
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Pandoralou Jul 2010
This is very common with people who suffer from dementia. My own mother recently told my sister she thinks I stole from her........she did not say what I took.........and five minutes later she denied saying it at all. Hopefully your family is aware that she is not right........if she does have dementia, they soon will be aware even if they are not yet.
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dmvgirl Jul 2010
I know it hurts when someone we care about says and does hurtful things. My mother also started thinking people were taking her money and getting paranoid about things. In the beginning I didn't know what it was but now realize it was the beginning of her dementia. She was so frightened by what was happening to her memory that she blamed others. She has since moved in with me and doesn't even ask about her money anymore. I think your mother in law is frightened .
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