Yesterday she complained that her iron is gone (she hasn't had it in 2 years), and all her pots & pans are missing (I have them, but she hasn't had them for 2 yrs.) I understand about "therapeutic fibbing" which I've tried and am not very good at doing it because it goes against my reasoning. It doesn't matter, she just repeats it. She wants to complain to management...again. I really don't know what to say to her or how to accept her accusations against staff. She is in a wonderful place with very sincere staff, and it disturbs me very much that she would accuse them of stealing from her. She has no stove or cooking abilities so of course she wouldn't have pots and pans, but there is no logic in her mind. Should I just tell her I have these missing things? I need help knowing how to deal with fabricated stories.

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Your mom obviously has some dementia going on, since she owns none of the items she's accusing the staff of stealing! The staff at the care facility is very familiar with this type of thing, trust me. The great majority of residents wind up accusing honest staff members of stealing SOMETHING at some point or another! My mother was on a rant for DAYS about her silver necklace being stolen by the staff at the ALF where she lives. I tried talking her off the ledge, which, by the way, NEVER works, and still she ranted on and on. While ranting to some other residents, they too chimed in that YES, they had things stolen as well!! So one of the old ladies went to the exec director to complain. The ED, having been-there-done-that, told her there was nothing he could do about the situation personally, but that she should call the Sheriff if she felt so inclined. Which she did. The Sheriff wound up knocking on MY mother's door, saying she understood mother had a necklace stolen. Mom was flabbergasted and told them no, that was NOT true, and closed the door! That situation led to her calling me another 20 times to rant and rave about can-you-imagine-the nerve. Mother, if you make accusations, then plan to put your money where your mouth is! Two days later I showed up at her apartment, took out her jewelry box, and guess what? The stolen silver necklace was right there where she left it. The ED and I had a chuckle over the whole incident.

Moral of the story? Let it all go in one ear & out the other. Allow the staff at the facility to handle your mother, that's what they're paid to do. And, as far as 'therapeutic fibbing' goes, at some point you'll need to do it, period. As the dementia progresses, it's a lot kinder to agree with whatever they're saying, or to lie to diffuse the situation, than to allow them to go on with their delusion of the moment. Dementia has nothing whatsoever to do with 'logic'.

Best of luck!
Helpful Answer (14)
Reply to lealonnie1
Zdarov Dec 16, 2018
Wow, what a story. Illuminating. :)
I have been told, although I don't have the research to prove it, that as we age we have less control over certain brain functions and there is nothing we can do about it.
Supposedly that is why seniors often blurt out comments and often seem hurtful and nasty.  Maybe it is dementia, but maybe also less executive control in our brain.
It seems to me that being paranoid could be a natural consequence of fear and uncertainty.
I hope that as I age and begin to lose it little by little people will understand that I have no intentions of being horrible and mean.
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Reply to anonymous866059
cwillie Dec 16, 2018
This is never normal aging, loss of executive function is one of the earliest signs of some types of dementia.
Live247, the best advice I had received regarding such situations was to view it with a sense of humor. It may not be funny in the moment, but when you re-live it months later, it can be pretty darn comical.

Try to teach yourself to use those "therapeutic fibs" as that can make the story teller feel better, thus you feel better. Such as someone stealing your Mom's pots and pans.... I would have said, wish someone would steal my pots and pans so I wouldn't need to cook dinner tonight :P

And when you think about it, life in a nursing home can be boring for some residents, so story telling gets attention, thus one gets into a routine of trying to out beat someone else's story. Keeps the gossip mill busy.
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Reply to freqflyer

"No, no, no, remember, you sent me home with box loads of stuff. Those pots were in there I know because they rattled all the way home." The staff is very used to being accused of stealing. Don't let it go beyond you, as mom's brain is broken and does not process correctly anymore.
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Reply to surprise

You could make a list with her of everything she has currently with her to reassure her and protect staff but other than that lie! Tell her its in storage or you have it safe. Good luck.
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Reply to Hilsmymum

FIRST THEY ARE NOT FABRICATED STORIES & stop thinking they are because she truly believes them - her mind process is: she remembers something & can't see/find it ~ SHE would never lose it ~ she lives where there is others ~ the others must have taken/stolen it

Therapeutic fibs are best kept as close to the truth as possible whenever you can - tell your mom that she asked you to hold on to them for her until she has space or that she gave them to you

I told my mom that they were stored at my house for her & when I told her how I built a box spring for a bed in the basement [I couldn't get one down the stair & turn the corner at bottom] - I gave her a blow by blow description of building it with my husband - then I explained how I upholstered it to match the curtains - she actually got quite into it & remembered it for quite some time

Thereafter I would tell her I was storing 'it' for her & often would bring the storage box up so she was happy - there is a good amount of storage but not as much as would hold all she couldn't find but she was happy knowing that items precious to her were respected by the family & that they were safe & sound

Treating her items with respect ~ is being respectful to her in her mind - try writing her a flowery thank you note & rough it up a bit to make it look old & sneak it into her drawer so when she says something about things being stolen you can say you have them & you were so pleased to have them that you wrote out a thank you note - OR even now just send her the note now if you are more comfortable with this then you can show it to her when things come up - it can't hurt
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Reply to moecam

Humor her right where she is at...tell her you'll be right back that you're going to file a report with management. Walk away, come back 10 minutes later. Tell her, the manager was very busy so she/he asked you to come back. Tell her you will def. handle it. Not to worry. Stay you visit and then just leave. If it happens again.. repeat the pattern but change the story a little. You don't want to bore When I had an aunt in a nursing facility, she kept saying she wanted to go back to Puerto Rico. I told her I would buy the tickets. The next time I told her the airports were closed because a threat of a snow storm. The next time I told her I bought them but left them home. The next time I made reservations on line, but didn't confirm them, then I printed the tickets. I told her the demand was sooo high that I had to get them for two months from that date. After awhile, she didn't ask anymore. After she dies, we took her ashes to Puerto Rico and spread them in her favorite place.
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Reply to Melimar

My dad lives at home and accuses us everyday of stealing from him.

Don't leave too much of value at the home and get used to it
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Reply to donkeehote

I understand. My Father has been accusing first carers at home and now care home staff of stealing.
It has taken me a long time to accept this. I don't react at all now .I would possibly say the pots were handed in to be used to make her meals then change subject. Very hard to deal with. The staff are very used to this and will be trained how to deal with it. The staff where my Dad is are always willing to discuss any concerns and work out how to deal with issues and support me.
Maybe that would help. They will reassure you too.
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Reply to Patience13

It is not about lying. It is about soothing them to calm them down. Dementia pts worry and are anxious. Your moral code hasnt gone in the toilet if you tell her you have the pots or they are getting washed. It is not about YOU. It is about them. They worry and are anxious because a part of them knows something is wrong. There mind isnt working right. It is also part of the disease. If it were you, would you want someone to tell you the truth so you get more upset? No you would want someone to sooth your worried mind and redirect to make your visit more enjoyable.
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Reply to Jasmina

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