My mother-in-law lives with us and accuses me of stealing/moving her things. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

My mother-in-law lives with us and accuses me of stealing/moving her things. Any advice?

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She is very aggressive towards me at 89 and I am at wit's end. I try to just let her rant but she won't let it go and I unfortunately respond back. I feel attacked and my own emotional well being is at risk. I have considered moving out of MY house to get away from her but I can't afford it. It's only getting worse and I have given up on the idea that maybe some day she would realize that it's not even feasible as she and my father in law are always in their living space in our basement and it's impossible for me to do everything she claims. Can someone tell me the progression of this problem? My whole life has been affected. Even though I know others experience the same thing, I'm just not sure I can continue to "handle" it. There's even been nights when we locked our bedroom door... for fear of what she might be capable of.

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As to your specific concern about accusations of stealing or tampering with her things: I don't know if it is any consolation, but this is EXTREMELY common in various kinds of dementia. If at all possible, it is generally best not to argue about it. Try to show concern and helpfulness. "Oh, I'm so sorry that your reading glasses are missing. I know the red ones were your favorite. Let me help you look for them. Sometimes two sets of eyes are better than one. And if they haven't shown up by Wednesday, let's look for another pair while we are out." Persons with dementia often hide things to keep them safe, can't remember where they hid them, and then are all the more convinced that someone is stealing stuff. Sigh. Don't spend a lot of energy defending yourself or trying to reason with her. Whatever the specific cause, she is clearly not able to reason now.
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The stages often listed for dementia apply to Alzheimer's only. Up to half of the people who have dementia do not have Alzheimer's but some other kind.

Maybe your MIL has dementia, but not the Alzheimer's type. Or maybe she does have some other kind of mental illness. We sure can't diagnose her over the internet! But it would be extremely useful to have a more specific idea of the nature of her problems. I hope you can take her to a specialist and have her evaluated.

I agree with those who have suggested this is a good time to look into other residential solutions for your in-laws.

Where is your husband in this caregiving scenario that has you so upset?
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Opps. she really is 90!! FIL is 91..
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My MIL is 90, and she did this crap 30 years ago.. people at her work were stealing her stuff, visitors,, you name it. Then came complaints that her hubs was sleeping around.. with the gal at the 7-11, my SIL and me.. you name it! No one mentioned dementia.. and now she is 89 and on aricept with still NO diagnosis..Won;t let the Dr test her.. you know the drill my friends! I think the dementia is real, and probably ALZ.. but who knows? we just tried to let it roll off our backs.. but it is HARD! Good luck my friend!
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Get her on some meds for anxiety and another for depression. She's not mad at you, she is frustrated and angry about being old. Get them both to Assisted Living. If her husband was a wartime veteran, look into VA "Aid and Attendance" to help pay for it.
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Reddog, from what you are describing she does not have Alzheimer's she has vascular dementia. That does not change the fact that she is confabulating, which is not the same as lying but the inability to think logically with the brain filling in missing details, plus a side helping of denial. I would bet she does not think anythign is wrong with HER.
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reddog, there's so much about the aging brain we don't know. My mother also doesn't fit well with the model we see for the stages of dementia. Her memory is not so bad, but she has no reasoning or planning abilities. It may have to do with what parts of the brain are affected as they age and how it progresses.

Sometimes people with dementia go through phases where they are difficult. When we're lucky the phases don't last and our loved one becomes easier to deal with. Sometimes they become more difficult. We never know what is going to happen. If the quality of your life is becoming low, you should talk to your husband about finding his parents another place to live. There are many options out there.

I don't know how your MIL would respond to a little humor. Around here I blame the mysterious happenings on the gremlins. It is easier to say, "Oh, it must be those gremlins again" than it is to get into an argument about things.
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I thank everyone for their input. When I read the stages... from the link provided, I am confounded. She functions fairly well and seems to have an excellent memory about most things, including all the perceived infractions done by me... It's almost like her problem is more about being so focused on me and "finding" reasons to blame me for everything, that it is causing her to be scatterbrained and frustrated. You just can't reason with her and her claims are totally illogicical. Is this, perhaps, a DIFFERENT type of mental illness?
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Reddog, I just found the link to the difference stages:

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/Stages-of-Alzheimers-disease-118964.htm
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Reddog, this link from the website will be quite helpful, scroll down and pick out the articles that catch your interest.

https://www.agingcare.com/Alzheimers-Dementia
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