What to Do If a Loved One with Dementia Thinks You’re Stealing

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How to Address Theft Accusations from a Parent with Dementia in Massachusetts

Dementia can lead to many unexpected behavioral changes, from aggression to withdrawal. However, perhaps the most painful for family caregivers are the accusations. People with dementia may accuse family members of trying to steal from them, being an imposter, or trying to harm them. Ahead, learn how to handle hurtful accusations from a senior loved one with dementia.

Don’t Take It Personally

Many caregivers have difficulty brushing off unfounded accusations. Even though you know your loved one’s perception is impaired, it hurts to be accused of theft. If you feel angry, sad, or depressed after the accusation, remove yourself from the situation. Leave the room, take a few deep breaths, and try to calm down. Letting your emotions override logic could exacerbate the situation. To brighten your loved one’s spirits after he or she exhibits accusatory behavior, find a specific song, video, quote, or image that makes him or her feel better.

Understand Your Loved One’s Mindset

While caregivers know their loved one isn’t being purposefully cruel, it’s easier to avoid offense if they understand the mindset of a senior with dementia. When your loved one accuses you of theft, he or she may not be operating in the present. The accusation may be the result of a past grievance, just now brought to the forefront by a dementia-altered brain. Seniors with dementia also experience hallucinations and delusions, and their accusations may result from their strange perception of reality.

Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Wellesley Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Don’t Argue

It doesn’t matter whether the accusations are caused by a past grievance or a present-day hallucination. You should never argue with your loved one. Appeals to logic aren’t an effective way to combat delusions. Instead, try to understand your loved one’s emotional state.

Find the Cause

When people with dementia make accusations of theft, the accusations aren’t usually an accurate representation of reality. However, the accusations may be an accurate representation of their emotional state. For example, if your loved one accuses someone of stealing his or her favorite watch, it may have been triggered by the instinctive realization that he or she doesn’t know the current location of the watch. If you view each accusation as a window into your loved one’s emotional state, you may be able to resolve these situations. In the watch example, locating the watch may be enough to soothe your loved one’s nerves.

Dementia affects the way seniors think, making daily care difficult to manage. Families should consider hiring experienced caregivers for proper care of their loved ones. Although it may be challenging to find reliable, highly rated home care, Wellesley, MA, families can turn to Home Care Assistance. Our respite and live-in caregivers are expertly trained to assist seniors with a wide array of important tasks, including cooking, bathing, light housekeeping, and exercise.

Don’t Disregard Your Loved One’s Emotions

Having dementia doesn’t mean your loved one is always wrong. If you disregard everything your loved one says, you may not notice the times when he or she is telling the truth. You owe it to your loved one to investigate accusations that might be true, even if the “investigation” is as easy as walking to the closet and finding his or her favorite coat. Seniors with dementia may not be able to perceive the world accurately, but this doesn’t mean they don’t notice when you disregard their feelings and emotions.

Providing care for a loved one with dementia can be overwhelming. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Wellesley, MA, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity. To hire a professionally trained caregiver, call us at (781) 239-0060 today.


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