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Help for a Common Challenge in Alzheimer’s: False Accusations

caregiver comforting senior with alzeimer's
A common challenge in Alzheimer’s is falsely accusing others.

It may come seemingly out of the blue: you place your loved one’s favorite tuna sandwich in front of her – light on the mayo, no onions – something that usually brings her joy. But today, she shoves the plate away and does not want to take a bite, insisting that you’ve poisoned the food.

Or, you have presented your loved one with a meaningful activity that links her to an important time in her past career, sorting paperwork. Suddenly, she accuses you of tampering with the documents to steal money from her checking account.

How do you most successfully diffuse situations such as these, which are caused by the delusions or hallucinations which can be a common Alzheimer’s challenge?

  1. Keep a controlled, caring, understanding tone. It might be instinctive to be defensive and deny the accusation, but appropriate responses might include something like, “I realize that you feel worried, but I will not let anything bad happen to you. Let’s enjoy this food together,” or, “Oh no, are you missing some money? The bank isn’t open at the moment, but let’s go there right away tomorrow and get it figured out.”
  2. Move into a welcomed distraction. After sharing in the senior’s concern, transition into a topic or activity that the senior enjoys, or move to another area. With regard to the suspected food poisoning, you can engage the senior in going into the kitchen and helping prepare a new sandwich. If you have reassured the senior that you’ll visit the bank together tomorrow, a walk outside to view the flowers and birds, or playing some favorite music, may help.
  3. Never argue or try to reason. These tactics very often escalate agitation in someone with Alzheimer’s. It could take some experimentation to develop the strategy that is best, and that strategy might need to vary from one day to the next. The aim is to stay relaxed, patient, and empathetic, validating the older adult’s feelings and providing comfort.

Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, the top-rated providers of Kalamazoo home care and senior care in other Michigan communities, are highly trained and experienced in creative, effective dementia care techniques, and can help with managing challenging situations and behaviors, enabling a senior loved one to enjoy an increased quality of life, and providing family caregivers with relief and peace of mind. Contact us today at (866) 229-2505 , or at (269) 373-5444  in Kalamazoo, (269) 763-5350  in Paw Paw, (269) 849-9252 in St. Joseph, and (269) 963-9888 in Battle Creek for additional information or to inquire about some additional resources which will help you better care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. For a full list of the communities we serve, visit our Locations page.

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