Mom with moderate dementia telling imaginary stories and is convinced they are true. Any advice?

Follow
Share

Mother is living in AL and has been telling wild stories about staff trying to sleep in her bed, taking showers in her bathroom and taking her apartment away. She is convinced this stuff is going on and is refusing care from at least one staff person. She is accusing us of setting her up and can't understand why we would do this. It's so difficult to have a conversation with her and she begs us to tell her we love her and to come and see her.
We try and reassure her but nothing is working. She is refusing going to the dining room and c/o not stop about pain which has no basis. We are at wits end and need some help. I am feeling really burnt out; love her but don't like her at all. Every visit leaves us feeling exhausted and phone conversation are even worse.
Help, we are desperate.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Find Care & Housing
10

Answers

Show:
My husband has had both of his hips surgically replaced. The first was in the early 90s just before we met and the second was done in 99. He loves to tell people that he "has no hips" He says that he lost them both "in the war". The truth part is that he was in the Marine Corps during the Korean War, but he did not go overseas. He was stationed near San Diego at Camp Pendelton for the 3 years that he served. When he first started telling this story I tried to correct him but he was convinced, so I just let it go. Not important really. However, he did experience some "delusions" while he was still adjusting to his meds. He woke me up in the middle of the night once to tell me that he heard on the radio that the police were looking for us. That we had been reported as 'missing'. I had read somewhere that sometimes it is helpful to just "get into it with them" and then distract them asap. So I pretended to call the police and let them know that we had been found and were OK. Then made us something to eat (at 3am) This worked fine. He still wakes me every so often, always because he can't find either the car or the keys. I reassure him that I have the keys, sometimes I have to show him. Or I will show him, out the window, that the car is OK. Then he will go back to sleep (all but one time) His DR said that the important thing is to validate what he thinks and then pretend to fix it. Or for real as in the car thing. In other words don't argue with him. No point really. Of course this is easier for me because we are at home. Because you are not there to see for yourself, there might be some truth there as Olma said and you should check with the nursing staff. I always try to err on the side of caution.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

My mother had these sorts of delusions after her stroke, while in rehab and occasionally, in NH, tells us clearly untrue stories (about floods, about the home being sold). They come and go. They all seem to stem from mis-interpretations of things that she's seen and heard. Do if she sees two men in suits walking down the hallway of the NH, the home is being sold (when in fact they were State Inspection officials). She sometimes confabulates things she's heard on the news with goings on in the home. In rehab, she was convinced that staff was asking her to pay for help; that they weren't giving her meds. One day I was sitting with her and the nurse had just adminstered three medications. With the nurse still sitting there chatting, my mother said to me, "you realize I have to get my medications myself here". I asked her what she meant and she pointed to her water pitcher. It seems to me that, at least in Mom's case, there is very little reasoning ability left, so she takes a fact and it gets distorted into something else. It reminds of my two year old grandson's comment the other day; one of his cats died a month ago. the empty litter box is still in his parents' bedroom. He pointed to the little box and said to me, "Templeton ate up all the litter, and now he's gone!" It makes sense to him, and my mom's stories make sense to her. But ALWAYS check with the unit manager or the director or nursing about what out of the ordinary events might be going on. I know what Pam means, sometimes we look like idiots, but better to ask.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Have you considered that these wild stories may contain a grain of truth?Nursing homes do not / can not monitor all clients 24/7. Many clients do wander in rooms and bathrooms that are not their own and though it is infrequent some will climb into bed with another client!
Yes, she could be delusional and sexual delusions are not out of the norm but I'd check her stories just to be on the safe side.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

My mother has many delusions. We lived a couple of years with a house that was on stilts, so that air could blow under the house and come up through the floor. Looking at the house from the outside didn't help. Putting down thick rugs didn't help. She finally stopped talking about it on her own, but still puts towels and blankets down on the floor -- a definite fall hazard, but I can't get her to stop.

I think it would be easier to say that my mother's life is now based more on non-reality than reality. For many years she was rewriting stories of things that happened. They were based on truth, but she would fill in the details the way that she wanted. For example, when my father died, we were at his bedside. My mother was zoned out -- a mix of dementia and Ativan. When she talked later of the death, she talked of how she ran up and down the hall looking for a doctor. She talked of how she returned to be with him and how he had squeezed her hand before he died, letting her know he was gone. None of this happened, but I didn't correct her, since her story did no harm. Other mental creations, however, can do harm if not dealt with.

lindek, your mother's delusions make her feel unsafe. They are not unusual and may disappear with time. I wonder if there is a way to reassure her that even if there are people, they do not mean her any harm. It is so hard to know what to do. I think I would talk about it to her doctor and the facility to see if they know something that may help.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Does a person with Dementia know that they are having delusions and know the next day or hours later that they don't like what they were thinking or feeling ?
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

You know and I know that these things aren't happening to your mom to but to her they are very real and her concerns, because they're so upsetting, are valid.

Don't argue with her or try to convince her that this isn't happening. She can't be swayed from thinking these things are happening. Redirect her attention when she starts talking about these delusions. Talk about something else. Anything.

Always make sure your mom knows that you will keep her safe. You don't have to buy into the delusions to do this. At the end of each phone call or visit tell her that you will always take care of things and that she doesn't need to worry. The #1 goal is to keep your mom as calm as possible.

My dad had delusions and I would listen to him and tell him that I would take care of it which made him feel better. By the next visit he had forgotten we had ever spoken about it.

These are all just band-aids for the dementia. The phone calls and visits will probably continue to be exhausting which is just one reason why this website exists. And with dementia, as I'm sure you've discovered, what works one day may not work the next day. Dementia changes and progresses, so should our ways of dealing with it.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

You never know, a staff member could have used her shower, or they could have sat down on her bed when she was in there. Maybe her room had to be cleaned and she was asked to leave for awhile while it was going on. She could have misinterpreted these things as being more sinister than they really were.

It seems doubtful, but you never know.

Probably she's imagining these incidents, and they seem very real to her. When I was in high school, my father still kept in touch with one of his former elementary school teachers, who was almost 90 at the time. She lived in a retirement community and was very active and intelligent. She was in remarkable shape for her age, and when she started telling my father about people getting into her house at night, my father was very concerned, to the point that he volunteered to drive to where she lived and sit up in her living room all night, to try and catch whoever was doing it. (The lady refused to get the police involved, wisely so, as it turned out.)

After camping out in her living room for several nights,waiting for the mystery people to appear, my father told the lady that it seemed like the problem was solved; whoever had been getting in had stopped.

"Oh no, they still do it," replied the lady. "They come in every night and stand by my bed and look at me."

That's when it became clear she was imagining it, although nothing would convince her.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Since another stroke last fall my mother (88, in a nursing home with parkinsons, dementia & many strokes) my mother has been telling wild stories as well, recently to the point that she returns to her room to find people sitting on her bed - she hardly ever leaves her room - and people are walking in during the night. The nursing station is situated so that staff can see down ll hallways so I expect it's just imagination/delusions as her mind is almost gone now.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

It sounds like she is having delusions, and paranoid delusions at that. She believes people are using her shower, for example. Does she claim to see them using the shower? That is, is she also having hallucinations?

If these behaviors came on suddenly or suddenly got much worse, a test for a UTI may be in order. Oddly this kind of infection can cause strange behavior in elders.

If the UTI tests are clear, then I would discuss these symptoms with the doctor who is following her dementia. Is that a specialist? Delusions are common in some kinds of dementia. They are difficult to treat, but you won't know if there is something that might help until you try. If she hasn't had a full evaluation and treatment plan, consider an appointment at Mayo Clinic -- Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (which also researches and treats other kinds of dementia).

Continue to offer reassurance, without arguing or telling her she is wrong. Not easy, I know! Instead of saying "Of course no one is getting into your bed at night!" you might try, "Oh, Mom, you must feel just terrible thinking someone is trying to get into your bed. Of course you need your privacy. I love you so much and I feel bad that this is happening. I don't think that anyone wants to use your bed, but I will ask the Director of Nursing to investigate and see what might be going on that makes you feel that way."

Another approach is to talk about dreaming. "I am sure that it seemed very real to you that someone was in your shower. Sometimes when we have very vivid dreams they don't quite end when we wake up. It would be awful if there were someone using your shower, but it was just part of your dream."

Sympathize with her feelings but don't confirm her delusions as reality.

When you say she complains of pain that has no basis, does that mean she has been thoroughly checked out medically? Again, a UTI can be experienced as pain in odd places.

Distraction is another time-honored technique. She complains about pain in her side. "Let's get an ice pack from the nurse, and then I'll wheel you in the garden. It is a beautiful day and I see that the peonies are blooming."

Poor Mom! Poor you! Remind yourself "This is Not Mom's Fault. This is the dementia. I hate the dementia!"
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

So too with ours. We see the lawyer about Guardianship on Monday. She's been telling family that there is less food, she's not getting meds, no one will help her, she's missing meals. Then when we met with the head nurse she said there was no problem. We looked like idiots.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.