How do we reassure my 94-year old mother that people are not coming into her house and taking her things? - AgingCare.com

How do we reassure my 94-year old mother that people are not coming into her house and taking her things?

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She recently called the police to report her purse stolen and two days later remembered that she hid it. She accuses my husband and I of going into her house and swapping her "good" things with lesser items and we constantly get into arguments about this. She still pays her bills, shops, cooks, cleans and is very independent. I cannot get her to go to her doctor about this because she says it is everyone else but not her. We are all getting very frustrated and angry over this situation. How do we handle this behavior?

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get her to the dr. Even if it's for some other ailment then casually bring it up at the dr's office
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Get her to a doctor. Urinary tract infections cause hallucinations, confusion and other mental changes in the elderly. Frequently there are no symptoms of a UTI in the elderly other than the mental changes. She needs to be assessed ASAP.
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C:

I also agree she should be evaluated for dementia. In the meantime, suggest she picks an easy-to-find safe place to store all her valuables -- pursue included.

To avoid the stress of being labeled a thief, check up on her over the phone. If she complaints that you don't visit, spell it out instead of allowing her to rent space in your head and return her keys (if you have any).

If there's anything she needs, she can call. Good luck.

-- Ed
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Well, don't suggest that she get evaluated. :) At least not to her. Instead talk to her doctor about what is going on so he or she is aware of it at the next checkup, or perhaps can suggest a reason why mom has to make an appointment soon. The geriatrician who treats my mother is excellent at dealing with folks in denial. Here is one more thought. My 100 year old aunt does not have dementia. But for the last several years she has had episodes of seeing things, usually children, that aren't there, and naturally is upset by that. How did those kids get in here, etc? Each time it has turned out to be related to a UTI or other infection. A friend reports the same thing with her mother. I'm not sure if your mother is having hallucinations -- it sounds more like delusions -- but in any case physical problems should be considered and ruled out or treated. She is healthy and functional -- she deserves to have a better quality of life than her unpleasantness is giving her -- and so do you and your husband! I wish you well in getting some help and dealing with this.
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Thank you all for your great suggestions. The funny thing is that she is very healthy for her age, does go to the doctor for regular checkups and minor things, is very functional otherwise and still drives. But don't even suggest that she gets evaluated for any kind of dementia or mental illness!
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Actually, dementia can get better. Oh, I don't mean there is a cure. Alas, there is no cure and it does not spontaneously go away. But there are treatments that can ease the symptoms and greatly improve the quality of life. These are almost all most effective in the early stages, so it certainly makes sense to get an evaluation sooner rather than later. As igloo572 relates about her mother, there are drugs and therapies available that offer improvement. Improvement isn't a cure, but it is so much better than doing nothing! I think you could use some outside help in sorting out all the options. Is there some kind of agency on aging or an elder services hotline in your area? If you are in the US your county probably has some some services available for just this kind of situation. This is the only elderly mother you have had to deal with, but the professionals see it day in and day out and they know what is available in your area and what steps you can take. You can handle this! Hang in there, and get some practical local advice.
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You can't reassure her. She has "fixed false beliefs" which are part of her dementia. It is not going to get better and you will likely find all sorts of other 'beliefs" and paranoia (It's everyone else) are happening. What type of dementia - well if she's 94 then it's not likely Alz but she could have FrontoTemporal, or Vascular or Lewy Body Dementia.

The fact that she is calling the police in a way is a good thing in that there will be an established record of her calls and that they are unfounded. You will need this if you decide to become her guardian or conservator.

At 94 she needs another level of care than what is happening now. Although you say she cooks, cleans, pays bills, well that's all fine but what is her real cognitive ability.? The fact that she won't see a doctor and feels it's everyone else is a sign of impaired judgement. If there was an emergency could she deal with it? Does she have health issues that aren't being cared for because she won't go to a doc?

Do you have DPOA or MPOA? Are you a co-signer for her bank accounts and other financial issues or has she kept control of all this? If you have the POA's then you can have her moved into a facility or have a caregiver come on a regular basis to help her. But if she is going to fight this, then legally taking over for her via a guardianship is your only choice. You will need an elder care attorney to do this
as you have to appear before a judge and it's sticky.

The bigger question is what can you do......and what do you want to do? Sounds like your DH is over "mom". So if the choice is between him & mom, which is it?
So what is it and what can mom &/or you all afford for her care?

If she hasn't seen a MD, the first thing I would do is schedule an appointment with a gerontologist. UTI's do super strange stuff in the elderly so you need to rule that out plus find out what her overall health is. They will do a couple of tests, like the clock test and other mini-mentals on her to evaluate her cognitive capabilities. If your thinking she needs to go to a facility, what would be good is to call the ones you like and find out who is their medical director and make an appoint for her with those MD's. This can really speed up the processing of an admission application too. Then working back from the appointment date, start a diary of the inappropriate things she does and list what she can & can't do to give the MD. The gerontologist might suggest that she be checked in for a couple of days especially if she seems confused or dehydrated. After that she could move into a facility as a hospital admission (Medicare pays for several days after she leaves the hospital).

None of this is easy. I basically made my mom move from her home to IL a couple of years ago and just in Jan from IL to LTC. From the outside she seemed to be just fine - cooked, went to the store, bills, mail, bathed, got dressed,etc. But things were a mess - she would leave the gas on the stove - not her fault it was the dial;
wouldn't take her med's - they tasted funny and the pharmacy was trying to poision her; accused the neighbors of stealing her trash; filed complaints with the USPO that carrier was reading her mail; falls; 3 auto accidents in a year - teenagers made her drive her car into a pole; the list went on & on and it was always somebody is doing something to me. She didn't want to move and was some kinda upset, wringing her hands and crying while the movers were shrinkwrapping her furniture for the move to IL. But it had to be done for her safety and security. Last autumn, things got worse in that her episodes of paranoia happened about every couple of weeks so now she is in LTC.

She see's a gerontologist and this has been a godsend in that we've figured out that she has Lewy Body dementia - so she is on Exelon patch, and she is anxious rather than depressed, so Remeron works for her. Also with LBD they have this funny shuffle and for her it gets to be a balance issue so she goes to a balance class at the LTC. All of her meds are given to her regularly and with lots of water, so she is not having UTI's or getting dehydrated and confused.

Dementia does not get better. Taking action sooner is better. Good luck!
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How wonderful that your 94year-old mother has been able to live independently so long! That she can still shop and cook and clean is remarkable. It sounds like she is now experiencing some decline and she may need more supervision or at least observation. Try very hard not to take her accusations personally. I know from personal experience how difficult that can be, even when there is an official diagnosis of dementia. It is ironic that now that she is becoming less pleasant she needs your participation in her life more than ever. Best wishes to you as you deal with this turn of events in your relationship. Hugs to you!
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Do not take her accusations personally as it is the illness that is causing all this. Unfortunately it is likely that things will only get worse over time and the stress increase. You may have to take a hard stand on this and give her two options.
1) She sees a Doctor and is evaluated. 2) Move out of your home.

You may also consider getting some advice from and Eldercare Attorney as she has notified the Police of theft, accused you and your husband of taking things from her. You need to protect yourselves against false accusations caused by the dementia.

Good luck
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You tell your mom that the only way that you'll even consider her accusations true, is if she sees a doctor first. Once he/she rules out any physical ( or in her case mental) problems, tell her that you'll look into the problem. That way you're not telling her she's demented, but she also has to take some responsibility too in seeing if there's an underlying problem. Then I'd tell her that if she doesn't see a doctor, she's on her own and to not bother you anymore.
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