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My mother recently called my home phone and wasn't aware that the answering machine had picked up. (my mother is a massive stroke survivor of 9 years ago). I was able to hear one side of the conversation she was having with my father. She accused me of stealing all her jewelry during my last visit home. Moreover, she stated that I had even shown what I had taken to my father before I left home. Undoubtedly they have misplaced her jewelry (again) someone in the home and can't remember where it's been put. She then called me at midnight and restated her claim that I had stolen her jewelry (this time I answered the phone but she wouldn't listen to anything I said.) Question: what should I do if she officially accuses me of the theft to the police? Should I shrug it off as part of the territory with elderly parents or is there something proactive I should do? My father has been diagnosed with moderate dementia. Thank you.

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You are definitely not alone with this. Many of us know your pain and the fear of having to go through court proceedings because of your parents' dementia. If this has happened before, hopefully others are aware of that. This would help you a lot.

No, she likely won't listen to you, as she can't remember where she put it, so you (if you are the caregiver) must have taken it. That’s her logic.

The horrible part is, sometimes elders are taken advantage of this way, so law enforcement is more apt to follow through (which they should if it's true). The good part is that the kind of thing you describe happens so frequently, that they likely understand that side, too.

Get anyone you know behind you. Even though, painful as it is, your parents may not be convinced until they stumble on the jewelry, it's time to start getting some witnesses to understand this is a common happening. That could help protect you in the future.

Others on this site have had this happen, so watch for comments.
Carol
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Reply to Carol Bradley Bursack
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Thanks to all for your answers. And as Carol has already seen between the lines...look with them (IF THEY ALLOW IT). You sure you haven't already met my mother? (smile) Once she gets something in her mind, she's is convinced and there is nothing you can do to change it. Like the fact we have 6 bathrooms (we have 3). Or we have a basement (never had one). She told me the entry to the other bathrooms was through my father's bathroom. I took her there and said, "Show me the door". Of course it wasn't there. Because, she said, I HAD MOVED IT. You gotta laugh at the craziness to keep from crying/screaming. And sometimes it's not so easy. Thanks to you all for the support.
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Reply to memsobelle
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Awww, being called a theif and a liar is really painful. My mom has a personality disorder (NPD) and has always had more paranoia than the average person. Now, factor in dementia and mom becomes more than a handful on a daily basis. Anything that gets moved, misplaced or even thrown away may be asked for later and I will be accused of theft on a daily basis.As I live in the same house with her, I no longer attempt to defend myself. I will begin a quiet search and if found, I will place the missing item on her chair or right in her lap. We go on as though nothing has happened. If I can't find it, I just go into my room and wait out her muttering, cursing and accusations till she runs down. Of course my feelings get churned up too, but I know I am innocent and she's not in her right mind. I am setting into place, resources for her and will be getting my own place nearby. Time spent with her will need to be limited, for my own sanity. Of course, a part of me wants to feel guilty, and feel like a quitter, but leaving is the healthy thing for me to do.
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Reply to Shivaya
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My mother in law accused me of stealing from her right before Christmas. She cut the entire families Christmas gifts and this was her rationale. At that point, the entire family knew she was having severe problems. I wouldn't steal from her..I worked for a Bank for 25 years. I cleaned up the messes when she didn't pay her bills.
Please remember these actions aren't your Mom. With these problems of the mind if she is like my mother in law, she will go through several mind & personality changes. It is really difficult until they know that they are having problems. I don't know how I would be if I couldn't remember just normal everyday things and I think what is really scary is the paranoia that accompanies this. Mom would call us in the middle of the night and she would think she was robbed or people were looking in her windows.
She would take watches, checkbooks and things that everyone knew didn't belong to her...but in her mind...she had one and she thought it belonged to her. That is the reason there is such problems in nursing homes...The residents don't intentionally steal...they truly believe the items or money is there's and that is why they pick it up.
I hope this helps you. I know it is difficult but please know you are not alone. I just always try to remember that this isn't her. I love her and try to make her days as happy and comfortable as possible. She has alienated the entire family against her and ourselves. I resent that also but I try to remember that if the family spent the time with her that they should have they would recognize and understand the symptoms.
We are lucky because she still recognizes my family and she is happy in the facility. She also knows that she has problems. She broke her back in April falling out of bed. I had her out the other day and she told me she was sorry if she ever said anything bad about me. She told me that I was the only one who really cares about her.
She does have times when she is lucid. It is those times that makes it all worthwhile...it is then that you see a glimpse of what used to be. It is those times that you know that your parent does know what you have done and that you love them.]
Don't give up....she knows you love her...it is just a very confusing time for her...
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Reply to SherriSab
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My friend's mom accused her of taking $50 from her that was in a bank envelope. After several months of hearing about it, she placed $50 into a bank envelope, hid it in the house, then offered to help her mom "find" the money. Well, they "found" it alright. When mom opened the envelope, the first thing she said was, "I didn't have any tens in my envelope.

Talk about fooling some of the people some of the time!
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Reply to Butterball
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My 94 year old mother said she had been saving her money and had $20,000 hidden. She said she went in the other day and the envelope was gone. Now it is only me and mom here in this house and talk about being devestated about her thinking I took all her money tore me up last night. I feel better this morning and feel like I can deal with it but it took me some time to get to this place. It does have me scared that my sisters and brother will believe that I took it.

Several years ago the house was turned over into my name since I have been here with mom for 10 years. She told me yesterday that she gave it to me. Of course I had to chime in to her and let her know that I have earned this meager little house of 59,000.00 but she insisted that I did not earn it. I shut up and went on but it does hurt me that she feels this way and now tells others that I have taken some money, lots of money. This is a very tough place to be.
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Although I've not been accused of "stealing," per se, Mom has asked me more than once when I'm going to return all the things I've been borrowing from her. We have 2 separate rooms, 2 separate bathrooms, we do not have the same taste in clothing or jewelry, and we are definitely not the same size. Being rather confused the first time I was asked this, I asked her what I borrowed from her. She didn't know. I asked her when I borrowed these (mystery) items from her. She didn't know. But she was sure I borrowed from her all the time. I tried to reassure her that I had not borrowed anything from her at any time, but she just wasn't buying it. I finally told her I would go and look for the things and put them back in her room. That satisfied her, and she forgot about the whole conversation an hour later.

Until about 3 weeks later when she started the whole routine all over again........(sigh).
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Reply to jbozman
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I was a bank manager for 25 years and always took care of my mother in law. When she accused me of stealing from her, I was devastated. But I had to remember that this was the disease, not her. Her children who were in denial about the alzheimers started to believe the doctors at that point.
Mom has been in a nursing home now for 3 years and she has moved away from the stealing topic. She normally has 3 questions that she asks over and over again. We just answer and move her on to something else. But please know that it seems that every patient goes through this.
I always thought it was because she was losing control and she didn't know where to start. Children always blame other children when they can't explain what is going on.
In mom's case, I never left her. She even accused her son of aweful things but we stood there and still went to see her and take care of everything every day. She still knows us and she always says "I wouldn't have a life if it weren't for you and Sherri"..."You never forget about me". She does talk about us nasty when we are not there...but I will take that...I tell her that she doesn't have to worry about what she had for lunch..that isn't important..as long as she remembers us!
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I'm there as well. My mother tells people that I have stolen her jewelry, money, and CD's of her favorite singers. She hasn't directly accused me, but tells anyone who listens that it's true.

Best not to try to deny accusations or to reason with the patient. Instead, you might offer to help search for the items when you're there next time. Ask "Where was the XXX last time you saw it?"
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Reply to Butterball
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Remember that your loved one is feeling less capable of taking care of themselves. They are not used to relying on us adult children (or anyone) for help. They feel vulnerable.

Whether you live with your parent or not, you are a care-giver. I URGE you to speak with a therapist for yourself. I have learned so many skills on handling issues that happen with my dad. Dad does not have dementia but he has underwent chemo for cancer and has become very reliant on me. Sometimes he thinks I hide his car keys - I do! I do not want him to drive.

But I sat down with dad and said "you and I are going to be honest with each other. I will never hide anything from you. I will help you all I can. I will push you to get better. You cannot drive yet. But if you want cash in your wallet, I understand that and I will make sure there is cash in there."

Dont get cops involved if you are accused of stealing. Talk with other family members. Get everyone together to help search for missing item.

Accept your parent is scared and dont get defensive or condescend. Acknowledge that not finding something must be distressing and admit it happens to you too!
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