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What do you do when someone you are caring for accuses you of being a thief? I've seen and read about it many times. Is this just par for the course? If so, what do you say or do to those that may believe the unbelievable?
Maybe it is the control factor for some people as they see they are no longer in total control?
And what about accusations of physical abuse?
"What did you do with my money I always had hidden under my bed!!! You stole it from me!!"
Why is it money seems to be the root of all of these evils?
What's your story and how did you fare with it?


Do anyone else face these things?

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My Brother stole $100 dollars and he put it in my school bag and i got blame the best way is to just take the blame and just forget about it
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Thanks for taking the time to explain some options. Currently, I only have my husband (not a thing wrong with the guy) who automatically says "Bonnie, where did you hide my...." He never bothers to look himself. I think he just likes my attention:)
But this paranoia stuff is bothersom for so many people I know. And it seems often mean spirited as well as accusatory. I watched my MIL (sweetest person!) try and help manage her father's affairs and he (sweet guy usually) was convienced she was stealing from him. It really upset her to the point of not wanting to be responsible for his funds. He died at 100 so she had that issue going on for awhile.

What you said about a person at the community may wander in and take a liking to something and decides it's theirs reminds me so much of
The Toddler's Creed
1. If I want it, it's mine.
2. If I give it to you and change my mind later, it's mine.
3. If I can take it away from you, it's mine.
4. If it's mine, it will never belong to anybody else, no matter what.
5. If we are building something together, all the pieces are mine.
6. If it looks like mine, it is mine.
7. If I saw it first, it's mine.
8. If I had it alittle while ago, it's mine.
9. If I like it, it's mine.
10. If you are playing with something and put it down, it is now mine.
11. If it's broken, it's yours.

#7 applies at all thrift stores, yard sales etc.,
Bonnie
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Often, but not always -- nothing is "always" with dementia -- it is helpful to semi-go along with them, but try to minimize the accusations. "Oh Mom, I know you really liked those reading glasses and they looked so nice on you. I don't blame you for being upset that they are missing. I wonder if someone could have misplaced them by mistake? I don't remember touching them, but I suppose even I could have moved them for some reason. Let me look for them one more time." Then thoroughly search. If you find them, great! If not, reassure her that you'll ask the house cleaner, etc. and that if they don't show up by tomorrow you will get another pair as close to the originals as you can find.

In my husband's case he thought I was stealing from him and demanded to see the bank statements. I gave him the bank statements, which he sometimes read upside down. That seemed to satisfy him for a while.

Persons with Dementia often develop standard hiding places, which makes the caregivers' jobs a little easier, once they discover the places. The real tough part is if they hide it in items that will get thrown away, like empty tissue boxes and waste baskets.

This all gets greatly complicated in a facility. Sometimes the items really are "stolen" -- another resident wanders into the room, likes the cosmetic bag sitting on the dresser, decides it is hers, and walks off with it. This is seldom with malicious intent -- it is all just part of the impairments in the brain.

I don't think there is a perfect approach to this. You don't want to say, "Yes, people are stealing from you" and intensify the paranoia. But do acknowledge how bad the person feels about having that item missing, do try to help them find it or replace it, and certainly don't scold them for hiding it or making stories up.

The book "Creating Moments of Joy" by Jolene Brackey deals a lot with the case of missing items, particularly in a care center. It is an easy read and you might find the insights helpful.

Bonnie, what you are doing to try to educate yourself and understand the behavior is admirable!
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You do know if you hunt and find it - that you will be blamed for hiding/putting it there, right? Even bedridden, father would accuse me of that - with his sunglasses. So now, when he loses things on his bed, I don't touch it. I will move the pillows (he has lots of pillows on the bed). When I find it, I will point it out to him. At first, he would still blame me. But I always pointed out that I didn't have it, he asked, I looked and I didn't Touch It. After this happened often enough, he now knows that I'm not hiding it - but the spirits (people he sees but we don't) don't like him and is trying to make him go crazy. I'd rather he blame the spirits than me - so I keep my mouth shut.
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Don't know much about my mom before the dementia. She kept us mostly outside in the yard, inside the bedroom or in the livingroom watching tv. She did like to tell us stories about our ancestors' spirits. Other than that, she kept to herself. I don't think she wanted to become close to us kids after she lost her 2nd oldest child at age 3 from pneumonia during a super typhoon. She never really got close to us growing up.
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That makes perfect sense.
thanks for the explanation. do you have any suggestions on what to say to the paranoid person? Do you just agree or hunt all over the place for the missing money etc?
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Bonnie, my husband had no trust issues before dementia and he was nice and loving. He was nice and loving during dementia, too, except for this paranoid period.

The main thing he lost -- that the disease stole from him -- was his cognitive abilities. That must be extremely frightening. And if you can't remember your history with people, how do you know who you can trust? If something he thought he had was missing he could either think "I'm losing my mind" or "Someone must have taken it." Which would you rather think? And if you can't trust people, you'd better hide your valuables. If you then forget where you hid them, well, that just confirms that you can't trust anyone.

It is a very sad manifestation of the dementia -- sad for the person with dementia, and sad for the family. Not everyone with dementia gets paranoid, and some without dementia are paranoid. It is heartbreaking to deal with!
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What a story!
Was your mother nice and loving before the illness set in?
Did she has trust issues early on?
Still trying to figure out why the person insists that others are taking/stealing/hiding things. What's up with that?

capnhardass...maybe get your mom out of the house more often???
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My mom was on this stage for more than a year. First, it was us kids who were stealing from her. She would then hide her money from us - in her cookbooks, under that corner of the carpet, under her mattress, etc... When she "lost" her money and accused us, we were ordered to find it. And we did look hard because if we can't find it, she would punish us severely. So, we got good at finding all her hiding places. Unfortunately, that proved to her that we Were Hiding it. Then she would accuse us of trying to make her crazy by hiding her money from one place to another. This happened for about a year.

Then her accusations turned to my SIL who lives next door. She accused her of stealing her pots, pans, plates, etc...They got into a yelling match. At this stage, mom was getting worse. Not only was she accusing us in anger of stealing, hiding and trying to make her crazy, she was becoming violent towards us.

The neurologist would do home visits at that time. He prescribed meds for mom but...father refused to give it to her because it made her like a zombie. She would just sit there and stare off into space. And that's what we lived with - her anger and accusations and attacks (we fled before she could reach us.) How did I fare from this? I'm now traumatized. When I see an elderly or a homeless person with that "look" in their eyes, I get terrified and want to flee the opposite direction.
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my mother told me one evening that she knew what i was up to. she said i was always in the house at the time but my motorcycle friends were riding round and round the outside of the house to drive her crazy so id end up with her money. i suppose she was harking back to the time when my son stayed here and we indeed drove completely around the house cause our bike shop is out back and bikes dont have reverse gears. i told her i didnt have friends and if i did theyd have better things to do than drive circles around her house. dementia creeps up so casually that it takes several incidents like that to begin to realize that somethings wrong. whats even more confusing is how dementia comes and goes. ive been warned by docs that as dementia travels around the sides of the brain many different thought processes are affected to sometimes include bizarre sexual urges. she recently got tired of looking at my worn out rags and bought me some black a-shirts and some black briefs that she claims i look good in. i think ill lock my bedroom door at night for a while. this is the stuff nightmares are made of..
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I haven't experienced this personally but I have a suggestion. Maybe try redirecting the person. If he/she accuses you of stealing the money that was under the bed offer to help him/her look for it and then find something in the room you can use to change the subject. Stand up, look around, make an effort to help find the money and then focus in on something else: "Hey! This is a lovely necklace. I've never seen you wear this before. Where did you get it?"

My dad, whom I cared for in my home for 5 years, is now in a nursing home and he has paranoid delusions. He thinks the staff is 'hazing' the residents, he says he's seen residents with Uzi's. Initially I was concerned that he was afraid but he's not afraid. I actually think he feels powerful or more in control because he's the only one who sees these things that he thinks are going on. But when he begins to tell me a story about some incident he witnessed I let him finish and try to pick out one little thing from the story I can use to redirect his attention. Like, "I saw her and she was shouting at that lady to get out of her wheelchair." And I'll say something like, "Which wing does that lady live on?" And my dad will get sidetracked trying to answer the question.

With Alzheimer's and dementia, redirection is a great tool.
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I only had to deal with that for a few months, and then this paranoid phase passed. For me it was one of the worst aspects of my husband's dementia. I really don't know how I could have endured it if it had gone on for years.

I hope it helps some to realize how very common this is with dementia. This is nothing personal and nothing the caregiver is doing wrong and nothing based on truth. It is 100% the dementia.

Every one my husband told his accusations to already knew of his dementia and fortunately for me did not take him seriously. This might be a good time to be sure all of the loved ones' friends know of the circumstances.

Above all, make sure the doctor who is treating the dementia knows of this paranoia, in detail. Paranoia seems particularly hard to treat, but that doesn't mean it should just be accepted without at least attempting to find some help.
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