Envision having an enjoyable afternoon with a loved one with dementia, listening to music and playing a game of cards together, when out of the blue the person’s mood darkens. When you innocently ask what’s wrong, you get a sharp and unexpected response: “I know you took my favorite cup! Why would you do that to me?”
If this is the very first occurrence of false claims from a person with dementia, you may feel as though you are stumbling into uncharted territory. How will you appropriately correct and reassure the person while restoring their confidence?
Why False Claims Manifest
First, it’s crucial to keep in mind that feelings of paranoia and delusions aren’t personal insults. They’re symptoms of the condition, and in no way demonstrate the character of the individual. They function as a coping mechanism to make sense of something that appears very real to them.
While your natural reaction may be to defend your innocence, it is probable that disagreeing with the person will only further agitate them. Instead, try these strategies from our providers of senior care in Urbandale, IA and the nearby communities:
- Project a sense of calm. From your tone to your mannerisms to the environment around you, do everything you can to decrease the anxiety and tension the person is experiencing. Use a soft, calming voice. Put a reassuring hand on the person’s shoulder or offer a hug, if physical contact is welcomed. Turn off the TV and reduce any other disturbances in the room. Play some relaxing music.
- Respond with brief, straightforward answers. Now is not a good time for lengthy arguments and reasoning. Acknowledge and validate the individual’s emotions. Then distract with an engaging activity the person likes. As an example, you might say, “I can see you’re upset. Let’s come into the kitchen and have some lunch.” Or enlist the person’s help with a meaningful chore, like folding laundry or drying dishes.
- Plan ahead. If there is a specific object that triggers the person into “lose and accuse” mode, purchase one or more extra, identical items to keep around. Then guide the person into assisting you to “find” the replacement for the lost item.
Most importantly of all, ensure you have a good support system from others who can empathize with what you’re dealing with. It can be very painful to be wrongly accused, even though you are aware of the reasoning behind it. Connect with a caregiver support group locally in person, or find a virtual one online where you can get further practical guidance in addition to opportunities to vent your frustrations.
At At-Home Care Company, a dedicated provider of senior care in Urbandale, IA and the surrounding areas, our caregivers are skilled and experienced in the many intricacies of dementia care. We are here to partner with you to make certain a relative with dementia receives excellent care while you have plenty of chances for downtime and self-care. Give us a call at 515-292-2650 for more information.