My mother-in-law thinks people are stealing from her. Any advice?

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She switches things with old or broken or bigger sizes, and says we have conversations we don't. She once accused me of stealing a bathroom rack and insisted on having a conversation with our cousin about it and he told her they never had one, and another time said me or my daughter took her pants she is alot bigger then me and my daughter and said she remembers telling me she was going to give me some old pants that dont fit her and i was by the mail box with black jeans on i told her maybe she was thinking to telling me about it but she never did and insist we had that conversation and i told her i dont have a pair of black jeans this is only a little bit of what she has accused people of and she does it to her own kids i am not sure what it is why or what to do? she is in her 60's

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Big mistake. It will be worse for all of you if she moves in. Take it from me. I am living the same situation. Don't make that move and have her move in!! Just get her help. That's all you can do. Ignore her accusations and just sympathize with her, that's all. Good luck!
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It sounds as though she may be a schizophrenic. Has she been seen by a psychiatrist?
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Do not move her in.. it will not get better. I joke with my friends that we bought this house knowing one set of parents would need us. I am just glad it was MINE first! Dad dosen't do this, and now that the imaginary people are gone we are doing OK! Next you all will be stealing from her, poisoning her. etc . My hubs has a brother who is MILs golden boy.. yep... can't wait to see this!! LOL
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and thank you all so much for your answers i know i am not alone in this. I just dont want her illness to affect my marriage. He wants her to move in with us and i dont think it a good idea at all. :(
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My Husband has had her admitted years back because she accused him of poisoning her and the neighbor stealing her clothes and switching them with bigger ones. He said she is on meds but i don't think the proper ones or i dont think she takes them i really think she needs to be reevaluated. she has told me stories that i just nob my head and have not reply because i am speechless she has said that her sister she dont speak to no more has gave her sleeping pills and drilled her back teeth out but didnt know until she went to the dentist she has all so cut her women parts there is so much more, her friend gave her something to where she could see and hear but couldn't move and was going through her house stealing things, My husband told me about her and the way she is when we 1st started dating so when i would go to there place at the time i would not leave the sofa and i still do the same thing. Its just really starting to get to me 1 dont like to have her over or to go any where with us because the whole time she talks about the things years years back people stealing and just some one out to get her 2 i just cant handle it when she accuses my family of stealing and i have to be the calm one about it because her son my husband will just go off. So i have been trying to research on what it could be what to do how it can be treated and it leads back to getting her in to the doc and she is not my mom and her kids just say they had her look at. I am just at a loss
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Paranoia like this can come from different causes, but dementia is a common one. After a stroke, mental illnesses, or even a UTI. Getting a medical work up will answer a lot of questions about what to do next.

The general advice to caregivers dealing with a super-paranoid senior is to just keep them calm. It does not matter one iota what the truth really is. Just placate, reassure, and agree if you have to, simply to keep her from getting upset.

There are a lot of great meds for paranoia, hallucinations, and dementia these days that can help make it much better. It may not ever be curred, but these symptoms can be dampened. Good luck & post back!
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My MIL was always accusing people of stealing from even 25 years ago when she still worked.. perhaps it was hint. Now she is 89, and still does it, more and more often. When I was cleaning their vacay home this year I found a wad of $20. behind a chair. Didn;t touch it, just got FIL and then got it. He said she must have lost it last year, when she accussed him of stealing from her. Recently they were late for a visit. She found a bunch of ones in her purse..normally carried 20s. She accussed my FIL of stealing her money again! He lets her pay for things, and gives her the change back.. but she would not believe him,, cryed and carried on for an hour. She is not diagnosed.. he wont deal with that, but she is now on aricept ...I have cought her putting food in her purse, she has accused many of is of trying to poison her (even to carrying her food into the bathroom with her). Before she stopped driving whenever she had an accident (many) it was never her fault or someone "slipped her a micky".. I could go on and on. My Dad has ALZ.. I KNOW what I am seeing. Get your mil some help. My hubs did not want to see any of this, but since Dad moved it, it is harder for him to ignore.
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Funny story while mom was in the nursing home recuperating from her broken hip. A lady quickly wheeled her wheelchair up to me the minute I stepped into the cafeteria at lunch time to see mom. She said, "Maggie, your mom stole my watch and won't give it back. I had it in my sweater pocket and it must have fallen out. She's got it; she's wearing it; and she says she bought it. I want my watch back. My daughter gave it to me for Mother's Day." Yikes!!!!

At first, frankly, I thought the lady was bats, but when I walked up to mom, lo and behold, she's wearing a watch she didn't have when she checked in. Oops! So I said, "Mom? Where'd you get that watch?" She looked at the lady and looked at me and said, "Ummm.....I bought it. It's mine."

"Okay, mom. Here's the deal. That's Wanda's watch. Her daughter bought it for her for Mother's Day. If I'da bought you a watch for Mother's Day, you'd feel AWFUL!! if you lost it. Right?"

"Right," she said. She took off the watch and handed it to Wanda.

We determined it had fallen out of her pocket, mom saw it and probably asked an aid to pick it up for her. She's wheelchair bound.

Another lady claimed someone had stolen $500 from her room. I asked her, "Why on EARTH did you have $500 here???"

"For candy," was her straight-faced reply. She'd already gone to the nurse's supervisor. While mom's story is a bit different, I'm gathering elderly people with dementia often have this kind of paranoia.

They lie!! You just gotta' laugh. And take everything they say with a grain of salt.
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I had seen so many patients ware like your MIL while I was worked in nursing home,,, Suddenly someone(most the time female Pts) pulling my sweater that I'm wearing, " You stole my cloth!!' well best way to deal with this type of problems, "Just took it off give to her!!" Don't argue, get back later.....Jeanne is right on but I did most simplest way!!
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Whatever this is, it is a medical problem. Seeking professional medical help is the first step. You don't have to be candid with Mom regarding why she is getting a thorough physical. Make something appropriate up. But get her to a doctor.

Until then, try not to take her accusations personally and try not to argue with her or reason her out of it. Be sympathetic to her without agreeing with her accusations. "Oh, your blue sweater is missing? That is really too bad! It goes so well with so many of your outfits, you must really miss it. It was getting kind of old though. Maybe your recycled it and forgot about it. I'll help you look for it, and if we don't find it, how about we get another blue sweater for you?" In other words, don't agree that the items was stolen, but sympathize with her feelings of loss.

I don't think you are going to solve this without medical help, but you can try to minimize the pain it is causing.
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