5 Steps to Take If a Loved One with Dementia Thinks You’re Stealing

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Few things are worse than facing false accusations, especially when the blame comes from your parent. False complaints of theft are common challenges encountered by dementia caregivers. The following five tips can ease the emotional impact of being accused of stealing and prevent it from happening again.

1. Avoid Escalating the Conflict

Your initial reaction may be to make bold exclamations regarding your innocence, and it’s perfectly normal to feel angry when you’re not at fault. However, your anger outburst might make your loved one believe he or she is right, and you don’t need to face heightened conflict. Instead, stay calm and talk to your parent in a soothing tone of voice as you work to resolve the situation.

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2. Find Solutions for Common Complaints

Seniors with dementia often fixate on a specific type of theft. For instance, your loved one may accuse you of stealing his or her jewelry or even something as inconsequential as a television remote. If you notice a recurring theme, help your parent feel more secure about that particular object. For instance, you could help your loved one put his or her jewelry in a locked safe or safety deposit box.

3. Document Your Innocence

Some older adults with dementia call the authorities to report what they falsely believe to be a crime. While the local law enforcement officers may be familiar with your parent’s condition, they have to investigate the case. Alternatively, your parent’s accusations may sound so real that your siblings begin to worry they are true. For this reason, you may need to document your activities to prove your innocence. Start a file to keep receipts of purchases you make on your parent’s behalf, and consider having someone reliable sit in on any major financial decisions.

4. Try to Identify Unmet Needs

Your loved one’s accusations may be happening due to unaddressed emotional needs. For example, your loved one may be bored and start accusing you after watching a law-related show on television. Alternatively, your parent may find that accusing you of stealing causes other family members to show up at his or her house. Assess your loved one’s social and emotional needs, and make sure they are met. For instance, having a friendly caregiver visit for a chat each day could give your loved one something better to think about than the prospect of you stealing.

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5. Consider the Need for Additional Care

Your loved one’s accusations may represent a change in reasoning abilities, which could impact his or her overall safety. For instance, the same confusion that causes your loved one to think you steal could also cause him or her to wander away from the house. If your loved one frequently accuses you of stealing, you may need to explore additional types of care to help him or her stay safe while aging in place.

Caring for older adults with serious health issues can be an overwhelming responsibility. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of elderly care Coral Gables, FL, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. To create a comprehensive in-home care plan for your parent, give us a call at 1 (305) 964-5636 today.