My mom lives in my home and she thinks one of the caregivers steals. This girl is my stepdaughter and definitely DOES NOT steal.


My mom has some dementia (undiagnosed, but I have seen the decline), and she misplaces things. Then she thinks that my stepdaughter has stolen them. My mom has two more caregivers--companions for her--she only needs moderate care--and she never accuses them of stealing. When I try to defend my stepdaughter, the exchange goes VERY BADLY. I do not feel I can agree with her, even though that would probably be easiest. I feel agreeing will just validate her and she will accuse my stepdaughter even more. There is definitely no stealing going on--it is all in her head. My mom is relatively normal with most issues, except for this matter. I do not know how to diffuse this situation when it comes up without having a major confrontation. I am becoming majorly burned out by this never ending point of contention. Any ideas from anyone out there?

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My mom has Alzheimer. At the time, we didn't know this. Jeanne is right. Mom had all these hiding places. Then she would accuse all of us of stealing her money. She would frantically search for it. The key is to "find" the item with her there with you. From past experience, if you find it, and she's not there to see you find it, she will accuse you of putting it back and trying to make her go crazy. Whereas, if she finds it with you, she will just say that someone is trying to make her go crazy but she will not accuse you of it. (The somebody is that invisible person who is playing tricks on her.)

It's best to read as much as you can about Alz. Different people react when they have Alz. There are also medications that can help her delay the Alz or to control her anger issues.

I hope SD is able to let your mom's words go in one ear and out the other. At the same time, you both need to be alert of her actions...Take care!

Confrontations with people with dementia are pointless and upsetting to both parties.
"See, I told you she steals!"
"I'm sorry that your bracelet is missing. ... Would you like to have a glass of milk and some cookies now?"

And I'd like to point out that it isn't the "aging process" behind this behavior. There are certainly people who live to be a hundred and who have never accused someone of stealing in their lives. What you describe is typical of certain kinds of dementia. I want to be clear about this, because I think it will help you cope with your mother if you are clear about what is going on. If she were simply older than you, trying to reason with her makes sense. If she has dementia she is losing her ability to reason, and that is no longer a viable approach.

Dementia progresses. It gets worse. I hope that you can find ways to not let it push your buttons and to increased stress levels for you.

Good luck!

Ive never thought of the association aspect. It could be that you have something there. My stepdaughter is gracious about this and she does understand the aging process to some extent. We just use SDs help for a couple of hours in afternoon until we can get home from work.S She will not accuse SD directly, nor will she tell my husband. She just insists on calling me aside to tell me what SD has stolen, and it really pushes my buttons because I know it is not true. Again, I don't feel I can validate the behavior, but when I disagree with my mom and I can't find the missing item, my mother triumphantly declares "See I told you she steals". It just becomes a confrontation, and intellectually I know I "buy In", but I don't know how to not "buy in" and how to avoid validating my mother's accusations. Thanks for your feedback.

I agree: you can't pretend to agree that SD is stealing. You can validate your mom's feelings, though. "Oh Mom! It really is dreadful to have your nice things go missing, isn't it? I suppose that somebody could have taken your charm braclet, but it doesn't seem likely to me, when the cash I have in my desk drawer is still there. I am going to help you search for that braclet because I think it might have been misplaced." Once you discover your mother's favorite hiding spots this will not be as hard as it sounds. (Often it not that the item was "misplaced" -- it was deliberately hidden, to protect it from thieves. Sigh.)

How is your SD taking these accusations? Does she understand the nature of dementia and not to take this personally? Are you aware of any reasons Mom might pick on SD especially? Do they get along most of the time? There could be a reason that you'll never figure out ... like SD reminds Mom of a girl in her 4th grade class who did steal something of Mom's. Who knows? But it is important to assure your stepdaughter that this is not her fault and she shouldn't take it personally.

Do you and Mom and Stepdaughter all live in the same house?

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