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Accusations of Theft

Jeanh

New member
Dec 3, 2019
1
Hi, I'm new here but I've joined up to see if anyone can offer advice on ways in which I can help my husband. My Mother-in-Law has dementia (not entirely sure whether she has been officially diagnosed or if it's just the general opinion of the family in view of what's happening).

My MIL has begun accusing my husband of stealing from her and it's now become so bad that she refuses to have him in the house or talk to him on the phone. She didn't send him a card for his birthday and now with Christmas looming we just don't know what to do as we always used to visit her on Christmas morning. Naturally this has upset my husband very badly as he and his mother used to be very close. Recently my MIL told her eldest daughter that my husband had broken in and stolen two watches from her that were on the mantelpiece. When her daughter mentioned that her mother was wearing one of the watches in question, her mother replied that he had broken back in and replaced it!!

Has anyone come across things like this before? Is there anything we can do; I'm aware confrontation isn't an answer? How can I support my husband through this difficult time?
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
12,860
South coast
Hi @Jeanh and welcome to DTP

Im afraid that the accusations of stealing are so common with dementia that it is almost diagnostic. What happens is they move things around, or "put them away safely" (so that the thief wont find them), then forget that they have done so and think that they have been stolen. sigh.

Im afraid that you wont be able to convince your mum that things havent been stolen, because she is unable to comprehend that it is really her that is doing it. My mum was convinced that I (among others) was stealing from her and often wouldnt allow me into her house either. It did eventually pass, but went on a long time.

You might find this thread on Compassionate Communication helpful
https://forum.alzheimers.org.uk/thr...n-with-the-memory-impaired.30801/#post-413710
 

Lawson58

Registered User
Aug 1, 2014
2,165
Victoria, Australia
I have been accused of theft, deception, adultery and a few other things along the way.

When my husband found it difficult to access the bank online, I was accused of stealing all his money, hiding his money, giving his money away to whoever came to mind at that moment. At first it made me very angry that he could even think that but now I can ignore it. When he could no longer drive, I changed ownership of the car over to me. He signed the papers to do so but then I was accused of stealing his car even though it was still sitting in the garage.

I was accused of adultery but he couldn't think of anybody to name as my co-adulterer so that dropped out of the equation fairly early.

Paranoia was the thing that really rang the alarm bells that there was a problem and it gradually eased off over time and with medication. It is such a common thing with people with dementia and often it is the carer or someone close to the patient that is the target of the paranoia.

The hard part is to learn not to take these accusations personally and that I know can take time. You are quite correct that confrontation won't help but helping your husband to put it to one side for a time might be of some use.
 

Normaleila

Registered User
Jun 4, 2016
751
Hi Jeanh
Please show your husband these replies. Accusations of theft are typical of a certain stage of dementia. My aunt accused her cleaner. She also accused my grandson and the rest of the family were too embarrassed to tell me for several months. He was totally innocent, as is your husband. It's the illness talking, not the PWD.