Alzheimers Patient-accusing Of Stealing

Question

Asked by daughter-in-law

Alzheimers Patient-accusing Of Stealing

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

Answer

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.