• daughter-in-law daughter-in-law
    May 16, 2010
    Alzheimers Patient-Accusing of stealing
    daughter-in-law daughter-in-law
    May 16, 2010

    What do you do when an alzheimers patient thinks family members are stealing?

     

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FROM OUR EXPERTS

  • AFA Social Services
    Health Guide
    May 17, 2010
    AFA Social Services
    Health Guide
    May 16, 2010

    Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease often experience delusional thinking or false beliefs that usually have no basis. In the case of stealing, family members often realize that the “missing” items were hidden by the individual himself or herself – and proceed to try to prove this by offering evidence (“Look mom, your red sweater is under your pillow, don’t you remember putting it there this morning?”). These types of interactions usually heighten levels of emotions, lead to altercations, and often result in the individual denying the truth anyway. Delusions are not easily dissolved, and the more one tries to challenge a person’s way of thinking, the more resistance they could encounter.
     
    In the case of safety, where a family member will move a vehicle so that the individual with the disease doesn’t drive it, the family will often be blamed as well for “stealing” the car. As a person experiencing the delusion cannot be convinced out of it, nor will easily understand that their personal safety is at stake, it is best to move the conversation along by changing the subject rather then delving into lengthy explanations. You can simply say – “It is completely understandable that you miss your car. It symbolized your independence and allowed you to travel to so many wonderful places. Why don’t you tell me about your favorite road trip?” You can use this technique for virtually any situation. Just validate the person’s feelings by letting him or her know that you understand where he or she is coming from, and then redirect the conversation to something that symbolizes what is missed the most (freedom, control, sense of purpose, etc.) This will allow the individual to feel heard, while lending an opportunity to talk about the desired item and what it means to him or her.

  • Carol Bradley Bursack
    Health Guide
    June 01, 2010
    Carol Bradley Bursack
    Health Guide
    May 16, 2010

    This is so common and so hurtful. You may find this article, An Elder's Paranoia Affects the Caregiver. Their paranoia comes from fear and lack of control. Trying to understand helps. But it's very painful to be accused. Distraction sometimes helps. A third party who the person may believe (for awhile) may help.

     

    This is one of the things where you can't just "agree," as you can if they say many things that don't make sense. Most things aren't worth the energy to try to convince them. But when the person with the disease thinks you are stealing, you do need to do everything you can to settle things down. Third party - out of the family - people can sometimes help.

     

    Good luck,

    Carol

  • Dorian Martin
    Health Guide
    May 31, 2010
    Dorian Martin
    Health Guide
    May 16, 2010

    Hi, Daughter-in-Law,

     

    My mom who had Alzheimer's accused my dad of stealing from her. I would tell her that I had just spoken with her financial advisor (who happens to be my cousin) and that everything was fine. I actually didn't call my cousin on this, but we talked enough that I knew he would tell me if there was a problem. Giving Mom the knowledge that her advisor (and nephew) said all was OK eased her worries for awhile.

     

    Take care and keep in touch!

     

    Dorian

  • Carol Bradley Bursack
    Health Guide
    May 18, 2010
    Carol Bradley Bursack
    Health Guide
    May 16, 2010

    Hi, I'm sorry I haven't been on for a few days - there were password issues.

     

    Anyway, I will chime in with this as I've had some experience. It's very common (and very distressing) for this to happen. First, people with short-term memory loss can't find where they put things and it's instinctive to think someone "took it." Second, in later stages of Alzheimer's, people often become paranoid and that makes them figure everyone is "in on it," or people are stealing.

     

    For the family or others involved, this is painful. To complicate matters, some people do take advantage of the memory loss suffered by people with dementia, and steal from them. So, it's really complicated (I don't have to tell you this - I'm just underscoring what you already know).

     

    Medications may help if paranoia is involved. At any rate, I'd take the person to a doctor (if they will let you). Medications maybe should be changed (some can cause paranoia!) You may have to use some other, more benign reason, to talk them into an appointment, such as a blood pressure check. Good luck with this.

  • Christine Kennard
    Health Pro
    May 17, 2010
    Christine Kennard
    Health Pro
    May 16, 2010

    Hi Daughter-in-law

     

    It is very distressing when this happens. Family members feel you are doing so much for a loved one and then they accuse them of stealing. In many cases it is a paranoid delusion but that is not always the case. Other causes include; Feeling they are having all their decisions about how they live taken away

    They are in fact a victim of financial abuse.

     

    More information would be helpful so that I and other people on OurAlzheimer's can give you more acurate advice.

     

    Christine

    • daughter-in-law
      May 17, 2010
      daughter-in-law
      May 17, 2010

      Thanks for your response.  That's not the case in our situation.  We are a farm family and my husband is the only son with three sisters and his mother and father.  His father is 63 and was diagnosed at 59.  We have taken the small motorized items like the lawn mower, four wheeler, and his pick up truck and moved them to the other farms so he wouldn't be tempted to try to drive them.  He came to our house one day and saw the ATV and lawn mower in our garage, and went home and told his wife that she and his son were working together to try to steal everything from him.  My mother-in-laws first response was to tell my husband to just bring it all back.  We disagree with her feelings, but have mixed emotions as this issue made my father in law get aggressive and yell at her.  She is upset and we worry about her safety, but his as well if these items are available.  We also thought about "rigging" them so they would be inoperable, but fear that he would then say that we returned them to him broken.  We are encouraging his mom to tell us if he gets angry again, but also not to bring it up in front of him, assuming he won't remember it.  Additional thoughts?

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    • NC
      NC
      May 17, 2010
      NC
      NC
      May 17, 2010

      Hi daughter-in-law,

       

      It is quite common that the elder would blame his family for taking things away for his safety. We have done that with my father-in-law before. We took away his financial power, his laptop, his checkbooks, his car key and his car... We moved him downstairs and etc. All of these are not what he wanted but we had to do it because of his delusion and incompetency. He even accused us of changing his and his late wife's wills. But we have no way to change the will by law in the lawyer's office! We were able to explain to him about this thing.

      But for other things, we just bet on his forgetting about it all.

      Now he is in late stage of Alzheimer's so it does not matter that much anymore. We still gave him the expired debit card sometimes if he remembers it. He does not use it anymore. The caregivers pay for him for coffee (we gave them the petty cash.)

       

      It is natural that he blames you or his wife after he finds out about the things you guys took. Well, I can only say, hide them well and hope he will forget about them again.
      About his wife, if he endangers her a lot or gets mad at her a lot, move out of the room or house. Find some safe home for your FIL or find a good assisted-living home for him. Her safety is important. He could hit her if things go too far.

       

      Good luck,

      Nina

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    • Christine Kennard
      May 17, 2010
      Christine Kennard
      Health Pro
      May 17, 2010

      It is a very upsetting situation for you all but I do think you are doing the right thing. You have to find some sort of workable situation to this very difficult and upsetting problem. You are right to consider the safety of others.You cannot give him back his pick up truck thats for sure. He would be a danger to himself and others. If he is becoming increasingly aggressive to his wife then I think you should consider giving him back his lawn mower unless it is the type you sit on and drive.Returning his items and rigging them might be helpful to defuse the situation.

       

      Does their son live with them?

       

      You are right to encourage her to give you details of any aggression and violence towards her. You may need to involve his doctor if diversionary activities, (taking him out, family visits, walks, things he likes to do) do not work. Aggression is always very upsetting and you will have to remind her about the danger to others should he get the vehicles back. Your support is going to be very important to her especially as her husband is so young, and presumable still physically fit.

       

      I wrote this sharepost about Aggression and Alzheimer's which gives ideas about coping with it that I suggest you give to your mother in law.

       

      A very sad situation. You are obviously thoughtful people who want to do the best for him and his family.

       

      All my best wishes

       

      Christine

       

       

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    • daughter-in-law
      May 17, 2010
      daughter-in-law
      May 17, 2010

      Thanks for your thoughts.  It is a difficult situation! Most difficult of all is the situation with my mother in law in how she handles things.  We aren't in the immediate living situation so it's not fair of us to judge how we would handle it. However, she continues to try to live and make decisions like he is back to normal like nothing is wrong with him.  It is getting to a point where it is becoming dangerous for her and the rest of the family as well. I no longer want my daughters to be at their house without us, which is very hard.  She is a great grandmother, but doesn't make good decisions about him, which in turn makes me worry about them around him.  My husband and his mom and sisters have all gotten together and set up all of the financials into a family trust and has all of that pretty well established.  However, now it is more about the daily living issues that she can't get a grip on.  We don't in any way want to hurt her feelings or make things harder on her, but she continues to do things that put others in danger in order to "please" him.  I have tried to nicely explain to her that she needs to learn to let the things that he says go, and try to realize that he doesn't understand everything.  However, I know very well that it has to be very hard as a wife who has been honest and with one man for almost 40 years.  A year or so ago she even let him drive with our daughters in the car. I about died when they came home and told us!! He didn't know how to shift the truck or which way to turn on the road they have lived on for 30+years.  Then another time he got on the ATV and took off flying down the driveway. Then he got about 1/2 mile from his house and got scared and tried to turn around to go home and got ATV stuck on barbed wire fence.  She continues to have all of these things around to "keep the peace," but is going to allow him or someone else to get hurt because of her poor judgement.  We love her and try to support her as much as we can, but don't know how to get through to her.  Thanks!!

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    • daughter-in-law
      May 17, 2010
      daughter-in-law
      May 17, 2010

      Thanks for your thoughts.  It is a difficult situation! Most difficult of all is the situation with my mother in law in how she handles things.  We aren't in the immediate living situation so it's not fair of us to judge how we would handle it. However, she continues to try to live and make decisions like he is back to normal like nothing is wrong with him.  It is getting to a point where it is becoming dangerous for her and the rest of the family as well. I no longer want my daughters to be at their house without us, which is very hard.  She is a great grandmother, but doesn't make good decisions about him, which in turn makes me worry about them around him.  My husband and his mom and sisters have all gotten together and set up all of the financials into a family trust and has all of that pretty well established.  However, now it is more about the daily living issues that she can't get a grip on.  We don't in any way want to hurt her feelings or make things harder on her, but she continues to do things that put others in danger in order to "please" him.  I have tried to nicely explain to her that she needs to learn to let the things that he says go, and try to realize that he doesn't understand everything.  However, I know very well that it has to be very hard as a wife who has been honest and with one man for almost 40 years.  A year or so ago she even let him drive with our daughters in the car. I about died when they came home and told us!! He didn't know how to shift the truck or which way to turn on the road they have lived on for 30+years.  Then another time he got on the ATV and took off flying down the driveway. Then he got about 1/2 mile from his house and got scared and tried to turn around to go home and got ATV stuck on barbed wire fence.  She continues to have all of these things around to "keep the peace," but she is going to allow him or someone else to get hurt because of her poor judgement.  We love her and try to support her as much as we can, but don't know how to get through to her.  Thanks!!

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FROM OUR COMMUNITY

  • mary in missouri June 17, 2012
    mary in missouri
    May 16, 2010

    God bless our 'old' friends and family who have Alzheimer's, and those of us taking care of them. My mother-in-law always thinks I'm stealing her things. As we begin our third year with her (she lives with us now), I remember a friend warning me about how hard caring for her would be. She was right. It's been hard...harder than we thought...and getting harder everyday. She accuses me of something awful nearly every day. I try to distract her, let time pass hoping she'll forget, etc. but when she's feeling aggressive there's nothing to do but weather the storm. I am amazed at how she can't remember the names of her kids, but can remember that she thinks i stole her hairbrush, or her bras, or her clothes. no matter how busy we keep her, no matter how happy a day she has, no matter what we've fed her, or how we've loved on her, we're always a moment away from her pitching a fit (or murmurning to others) about how we're stealing and plotting...

    we just started her on the namenda...  she seems a little 'clearer', but with that comes a whole new set of issues ... 

    good luck to all of you. it does help knowing there are others out there facing the same challenges...Mary

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    • Carol Bradley Bursack
      June 18, 2012
      Carol Bradley Bursack
      Health Guide
      June 18, 2012

      Mary, thanks so much for sharing your story with us! Most of us have been in your shoes. Being accused of stealing (a hair brush, clothing, whatever) by someone we love stings no matter how much we understand about the disease. I believe that this is right up on the list of most painful events we caregivers must weather. Bless you for all you continue to do.

      Please don't neglect your own needs to the point that your health suffers. It happens all too often. Taking care of someone with dementia takes a huge toll, no matter how much we love them.

      Keep us posted. We'd love to hear back from you.

      Carol

       

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