Dementia-related Delusions: The Unexpected Surprise Of Dementia Symptoms.
How To Handle Dementia-related Delusions
The Unexpected Surprise Of Dementia Symptoms.
How to handle Dementia-related Delusions dementia delusions
“… Common perceptions of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
tend to focus on memory loss,
and many families can be caught off guard by symptoms
such as hallucinations and delusions.”
Dementia-related delusions can be one the most challenging things about being a caregiver… They can be the unexpected “surprise” of dementia symptoms that can occur in the middle stages of dementia.
Understanding what they are and what to expect can really help!
It can be easy to become overwhelmed with all the responsibilities that are a part of dementia care.
You can find yourself doing all the household chores, driving to Dr appts, preparing meals and then struggling to keep up with the personal care!
When you or someone else finds themselves suddenly accused of moving their things, stealing from them or taking their money – it can feel shocking and hurtful. How to handle Dementia-related Delusions
How can you deal with dementia delusions appropriately
and not take it as a personal attack?
Let’s break down dementia delusions to better understand what is happening and what you can do if they occur.
1- What Are Dementia Delusions?
Dementia delusions are fixed, false ideas that are a part of common dementia behaviors. They are usually caused by the forgetfulness that is a part of the disease as it progresses.
Your loved one may become paranoid, feel threatened or become suspicious of the people around them without any apparent reason — they may jump to conclusions without much evidence.
This can be frightening and painful for both the individual and their family. So… Take A Deep Breath and try to remember that their delusions feel very real to them, as real as your reality feels to you!
2- What Causes Dementia Delusions?
A person with dementia has a hard time with short-term memory, correctly piecing together current information and their past memories. This can lead to inaccurate beliefs or conclusions which typically get worse over time.
3- What Are Some Common Dementia Delusions?
These Delusions can seem mysterious and usually include the following:
Theft: Many seniors hide possessions in unusual places to keep them safe, and then believe that they have been stolen. As much as it hurts to be blamed, try to remember that in their mind, you must be guilty if you are the only one who visited recently.
Someone Is Trying To Harm Them: These beliefs can include a partner having an affair, a friend trying to poison them, the neighbor wanting to harm them, to believing a seemly benign comment means someone is out to get them.
Mistaken Identity: As they become more forgetful or confused, they might not recognize close family members or could mistake a grandchild for their son or daughter. As much as it hurts to be blamed, try to remember that in their mind, you must be the guilty party if you are the only one who visited recently.
4- Try These Options To Respond To Their Delusion
It can be extremely frustrating to realize that you may not be able to convince them that they have made a mistake.
The options below can help:
Try not to overreact or get upset even if a false accusation or delusion is upsetting. It’s the disease attacking their brain and it’s not the “person” who is attacking you.
Listen and try to understand from their perspective. Let them know you care. If they think something has been moved/stolen, offer to help them look for it. When you “find” the item, celebrate with a big hug and a smile.
Ask questions about what think happened. This can give you clues to what might have happened. For example: ‘Is there a stranger in the home? Maybe it’s the new caregiver…’ and so on.
Acknowledge their distress and their feelings. Do not dismiss them – this can escalate their distress and cause them to lose trust in you.
Use a low-key approach and the passing of time to your advantage – sometimes the delusions will go away on their own.
Try to re-focus their attention, as you would a toddler. Ask for their help with a chore or a simple project they love.
Don’t argue or correct them. Offer a simple answer or alternative – do not use lengthy explanations, this can overwhelm your loved one.
Consider that they may have confused the past and present, and their accusations may be based on things from the past.
Remember, you are not alone.
Dementia Delusions can be difficult to navigate.
If your loved one’s behavior becomes overwhelming, consider reaching out to a professional for insight and help from a geriatric care manager, their doctor, the Alzheimer’s Association or a professional caregiving agency .
Be sure your loved one has regular eye and hearing checkups – this can help avoid any problems from sensory impairment which can lead to a delusion.
To help avert any delusional reactions, introduce activities and socialization so they are not alone all day.
To avoid confusion, make sure they stick to their routines and don’t make any unnecessary changes in, or to, their home.
What Can We Do For Your Ohana?
Be sure to attend Family Caregiver Workshops, like the ones Ohana Care Maui offers, to help you learn more about dementia delusions and get practical tips & techniques about how to interact with your loved one.
We Call it ‘ Client & Family Support’. — You’ll Call it Exceptional Care.
Ohana Care Maui clients receive the highest quality care from Day #1 — We ensure you or your loved one can live at home safely, lead a more productive life and enjoy the skilled, compassionate, professional care they deserve.
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