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My mom is accusing my sister who has been the main caregiver for many years with theft and other things. My sister is hurt and is trying to step back from helping. She has been the main caregiver for my dad. My mom and dad live in their own home and are 91 years of age.

Penelope,

I understand how hurtful it is to be accused of terrible crimes by a LO with dementia!

Your poor sister must feel devastated! Perhaps remind her that Mom and Dad's brains are broken and that they are no longer the people she grew up with! That's not an excuse, it's a valid reason for that behavior. They no longer live in the same reality as you and your sister.

As others have suggested, it may be time to seek alternative care for them.

Sending you (((hugs))) and best wishes!!
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penniesforlove Jan 26, 2021
Thankyou for your great wisdom
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Having 91 y/o parents with dementia of this magnitude living in their own home is a recipe for disaster for many, many reasons. There comes a time when safety should take precedence and common sense needs to prevail; when the house gets sold and the proceeds are used to fund their joint apartment in Memory Care Assisted Living. Especially since their false accusations are causing your sister to step back from caregiving. Dementia does normally reach a point where it becomes TOO much for any human being to handle alone at home, and too unsafe for the sufferers to deal with alone at home as well. Nobody benefits.

Wishing you the best of luck finding a safe solution to your parents situation.
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penniesforlove Jan 26, 2021
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Totally agree with funkygrandma.

Please encourage sis not to take it personally. It is VERY common. She will not be able to convince your mom that these things are untrue. But your sister should be confident in the truth that she did not do anything wrong and that your mom can't help her inability to understand this.
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Any maybe, just maybe, it IS time for your sister to step back from caregiving. What does she do for your parents in terms of caregiving? Does she live with them?
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Sounds like your mom is showing signs of dementia. It's very common for folks with dementia, to be paranoid, and accusatory. Your mom's brain is broken, and can't be fixed, so the best thing for you all to do is educate yourselves on dementia, as knowledge is key, and that will help you all better know how to deal with her. Please tell your sister, as hard as it is, to not take what your mom is saying personal, as she really can't help it. Wishing you the best.
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It is so very hard to deal with false accusations. They are usually a symptom of dementia. The older person remembers an item or event - and it may be from a much earlier time in their life - and can't find it. They become anxious and frustrated in trying to "find" the lost item. So, they leap to the conclusion that someone must have taken it, hidden it, thrown it own... and the logical person is the one who does the caregiving. The frustration and anxiety may include harsh comments, threats, and even violence. It can be extremely difficult if the person with dementia is obsessing about this item and getting mad throughout the day, for days on end, and for weeks.

I am pretty sure your sister is tired of the nastiness. She probably has tried "looking with mom" for the lost item. She probably has asked mom about the lost item and memories associated with it. She probably has tried diverting mom's attention from whatever she is obsessing about.

It sounds like it is time for a doctor's appointment. The doctor can make sure there isn't a physical reason for mom's obsession - stroke, blood chemistry imbalances, poor oxygenation, infections. If those are ruled out, the doctor can prescribe a mild anti-anxiety agent that can calm mom's anxiety and frustration. It may not stop the "constant loop of obsessive thoughts" but the anger and nastiness should subside.
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ToBeHelpful Jan 26, 2021
Generally helpful answer, but I have to add, good luck getting an MD to intervene. My mother just turned 89. I got a call 15 years ago from a private detective about some madness she was perpetrating (stalking a crush), and I've tried like everything to get professionals involved to help her--to this day, no help. Her primary care doctor is an arrogant idiot who specializes in tropical diseases, an ex-navy man, who refuses to investigate whether she is experiencing mini-strokes (as I have witnessed!), refuses to refer her to a psychiatrist, or to a women's specialty practice, refuses, refuses, refuses. A "Park Avenue" doctor. I could choke him. I hope my experience is NOT common to this forum!
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Don’t take it personally. It is the dementia. Try changing the subject or diverting her attention elsewhere. It feels hurtful to be blamed for stealing from your own parent, but it’s just part of this awful disease.
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Earlyabuse Jan 25, 2021
Wrong and wrong! My mother accused me of coming into her AL apartment in the middle of the night to rummage through her things during LOCKDOWN. This was a lie and not physically possible and this was just one accusation. She was an emotionally absent, neglectful mother while I grew up and there’s no excuse for this behavior. I cut contact the last two months to save my sanity.
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Accusing people of stealing is so common with Alzheimer’s patients (as I found out when we took care of my mom for 5 years, when she had Alzheimer’s). I even wrote a book about our travails taking care of her during this time called, “My Mother Has Alzheimer’s and My Dog Has Tapeworms: A Caregiver’s tale.” I have chapters entitled, “Steel Yourself for Stealing,” and “Paranoia Can Destroy Ya.” Both the paranoia and accusations were related with my mom, in that if she couldn’t find something, the “logical” explanation was that someone stole it from her, which led to an overall sense of paranoia. Once she accused someone of stealing her dental bridge. Do you know where it was? In her mouth! (A Bridge Over a Troubled Daughter, another chapter title.) I never saw her blush before this incident. I knew that the accusations were coming from the disease, and not her, per se, so I tried not to take the accusations personally, and that’s the advice that I’d give anyone, (as others have echoed).
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PenelopeT - my Alz. mother accused me and other relatives of stealing her stuff, too. This is a phase of the disease, and it will pass. For my mother, I think it lasted between 6-12 months.
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Agree with others comments, been there done that too. Try distraction, change the subject, redirecting, I'll help you look for (whatever's missing)".
Look on YouTube for Videos by Teepa Snow. She's an expert on strategies for behaviors in Dementia and Alzheimer's! Really helps me to cope.
Best wishes.
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