A person with dementia may sometimes make accusations against people around them, including their family, friends, and caregivers. This can be very challenging to deal with, and it is important to understand that the person with dementia isn’t making this accusations on purpose to hurt you.
Our understanding of the world is made the senses, which can be affected by dementia, which might contribute to the brain misinterpreting information from their senses. This can lead to the person with dementia holding false beliefs about the world around them, which can result in accusations. While these delusions might not be grounded in reality, we must keep in mind that the situation is very real to the person with dementia, and find ways to reassure them.
It’s Not Personal
The most important thing to do is not to take these accusations personally and let yourself feel distressed. Remember that your loved one is only making these accusations because of their declining cognitive abilities, and that they are trying their best to make sense of their version of reality. Focus instead on reassuring them and showing that you care about how they’re feeling.
Don’t Challenge Their Belief
As tempting as it might be to correct what you know to be untrue, challenging their beliefs can cause even more frustration and distress. Try and respond in a calm and reassuring way; if possible, think of how you could help assuage their fears. If they believe that someone has stolen something from them, acknowledge their distress, and suggest that you can look around together just in case it was accidentally misplaced. In this way, you will acknowledge how they are feeling, and have also offered them a solution.
Prevent Reoccurrences Where Possible
If you find that an accusation is made repeatedly, for example that their wallet is missing because someone has taken it, look for ways that you can prevent this from happening in future. For example, put their wallet in an obvious place, and gently remind them to check at that location if they are unable to find their wallet.
Arrange For A Medical Check Up
If their delusions seem especially severe and their response is increasingly aggressive, there might be a need to consult a doctor to see if there is any underlying issues that are contributing to this change in behaviour.