1. Expert Q&A: Benefits - Weds 23 October, 3-4pm

    Our next expert Q&A will be on the topic of benefits. It will be hosted by Lauren from our Knowledge Services team. She'll be answering your questions on Wednesday 23 October between 3-4pm.

    You can either post your question >here< or email them to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll be happy to ask them on your behalf.

  1. Kingfisher1

    Kingfisher1 Registered User

    May 7, 2015
    54
    Kent
    Hello everyone,

    I have only just joined this forum after being recommended by a friend. I have an elderly brother-in-law who will be 92 in October and I am beginning to worry about his mental health. He lives alone and has carers coming in 4 times per day to help him with cooking, housework etc as he is virtually bed-bound now and cannot get out. Myself and my 17 year old son visit him every Sunday (we live almost 50 miles away) to see him, bring his shopping and deal with any post or others matters that need attention.

    A little while back he started saying things had gone missing and was blaming the carers for taking them. They were silly things like old batteries and an old, broken bedside table that he claims he had (although I have never seen this item). Of course I reported this to the care agency who said that they would investigate but that it was quite common for these accusations to occur if Harry had perhaps put the items elsewhere and forgotten where. I sort of forgot about it in all honesty, although there have been other odd things like Harry asking why his mother had just walked out and left 6 months ago without a word (his mum died in 1986) and also that nobody had bothered telling him that all his brothers and sisters had died too. I did tell him because they all passed away in 2007 and I took him to all the funerals, but he's adamant that he didn't go. Anyway, I digress..... then on Monday he phoned me to say that he had something to tell me that I wasn't going to like; he claimed that my son Jack had stolen his old Bic razors from the draw and had been selling them at school. He said that one of the parents had brought the razors back and told him that Jack had sold them to his son! Now there is no way on God's earth that Jack would do such a thing, he is NOT a thief and he sees Harry as a father figure since his own dad died from a brain tumour in 2007. Poor Jack is distraught because Harry has now said he doesn't want to see him anymore and not to bring him to the house ever again. No amount of explaining will make him change his mind, and Jack is so upset that Harry believes he would do such a thing. It's a ridiculous accusation, why would a 17 year old boy steal old Bic razors that were all rusty and dirty, and then sell them to his mates at a school over 50 miles away? Why would a father decide to return them, and how would he have got Harry's address anyway??? It just doesn't add up.

    I don't know what to do, perhaps Harry has the start of dementia because I've been looking at his symptoms and they all match up. Do I call in his doctor? What can I do about getting Harry and Jack back to being the friends they have always been? Will it be me next who he accuses of stealing? - HELP!!!!
     
  2. RedLou

    RedLou Registered User

    Jul 30, 2014
    1,162
    Sorry to say but it could be that he will accuse you next. The accusations of stealing are almost text book dementia if you have a mosey round here. My father has variously accused me of siphoning off money from his bank account, because he did not remember setting up a savings account to which to channel spare cash, accused nursing staff of the theft of a ring because he has got confused about where items are, and other patients of stealing his clothes, because he is delusionary and mixes dreams and reality.
    You need a diagnosis.
    You'll get lots of support and info on here.
     
  3. chris53

    chris53 Registered User

    Nov 9, 2009
    2,929
    London
    Hello Kingfisher, a warm welcome to you to Talking Point, am so sorry your son is so upset it must have been such a shock to see his beloved uncle be so hostile:( I would take notes on how he has changed and let his GP know, there really needs to be an urgent house visit, at 92 years young there may be physical problems which need to be investigated, one if the most common (talking very much from too many episodes:rolleyes:) is either a urine infection which can cause very bizarre behaviour, or constipation so mayhaps bloods and urine need to be taken first and hopefully if he has a kind and understanding GP things can move forward from there..it may be an idea to contact the care agency or better still look at their daily log to see if any concerns have been noted.
    I hope you get some practical help soon so at least you will know what is going on, your son may also like to ask some questions here which may be of help to him, take care, support,understanding and help is here by the bucketload.
    Chris
     
  4. Jessbow

    Jessbow Registered User

    Remind the lad that this old chap is ill.
    He doesn't remember that his siblings have died, nor his own mother.

    Of course Jack isn't a a thief, the fact that the story is so unbelievable anyway backs this up.

    Remind Jack how much the old fellow thinks is true and how much of it is complete twaddle

    Remind Jack that he will have forgotten this episode too.

    Remind Jack that he's a great lad, and clearly figures large in the thoughts of the old man.

    Give Jack a big hug from all of us- not many lads of his age even really want to know.
     
  5. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    5,857
    Female
    Scotland
    Kingfisher this is classic dementia behaviour. Hurtful but really nothing to do with Jack as the accusations could be about anyone. In a few weeks the problem will be something else and someone else. Yes I'm afraid you too might be a target. By all means get him tested for infections and ask his GP about meds to reduce agitation. Good luck.
     
  6. Delphie

    Delphie Registered User

    Dec 14, 2011
    1,252
    My mum would accuse me of stealing or hiding all kinds of things. In fact it's hard to think of what I wasn't accused of taking from her. Her house, her slippers, her money, her keys... It was horrible because, of course, to her everything she was saying was true and her anger was completely real. Hard to cope with. And then she turned on my sons too, which broke my heart because she used to adore them. It didn't matter how unlikely the accusation was (she believed, for example, that they came back from a stay in France especially to hide her false teeth) she absolutely would not budge.

    This kind of paranoia was a big feature of her illness and, I'm sorry to say, the accusations went on for a long time. They only stopped when she moved into residential care and started to be medicated.

    She doesn't remember any of it now. Doesn't really remember my sons either. I only hope that in time they'll be able to remember her as she was, a loving gran who wanted nothing but the best for them.

    As to what you can do about it, well, getting him to see his GP would be a good start but be prepared for a big fat no on that one. Harry most likely thinks that he's absolutely fine.

    I got my mum to see her GP by pretending we were going to get flu jabs, and as I'd seen the GP beforehand on my own, he was prepped to give her a quick memory test, which she failed.

    She did eventually get an Alzheimer's diagnosis but refused to admit that anything was wrong and rejected both medication and carers, so we struggled for quite a long time, her living 'independently' and me running myself into the ground to support that in an invisible (to her) way, while, of course, dodging all the accusations. It got so bad that sometimes I'd drive all the way then come away again in minutes as I couldn't stand the aggression and venom.

    But things are fine at the moment. She's in a lovely care home and medicated so no more paranoia.

    I'm posting all this because things are unlikely to go smoothly or resolve quickly. Dementia is horrible, really horrible. The GP my mum saw called it the long goodbye and that made me cry, way back then. But it's even worse than that, or at least it was for me.

    I'm sorry I can't be more upbeat.
     
  7. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    4,296
    SW London
    I know how hard and upsetting it can be, and how hard it can be not to take accusations personally, especially when they are aimed at your nearest and dearest. But as others have said, it is a classic feature of dementia.

    My FIL used to insist that family or neighbours had stolen things nobody in their right mind would ever want anyway - among others a seriously manky old pedestal mat from his downstairs loo!! (His aim was very poor by then). In fact SIL had taken it away to burn it.

    My mother also made the most weird accusations - I found the only way was to say something like, Dear me, that's awful, I'll have to do something about that.

    Trying to reason with her was hopeless - she would just accuse me of being 'in league' with whoever it was. Even cast iron proof, if I'd ever had any, would not have convinced her.
     
  8. patsy56

    patsy56 Registered User

    Jan 14, 2015
    840
    Fife Scotland
    quote <My mother also made the most weird accusations - I found the only way was to say something like, Dear me, that's awful, I'll have to do something about that.

    Trying to reason with her was hopeless - she would just accuse me of being 'in league' with whoever it was.>

    Thank goodness I am not alone, yes I say that as well to my mater.
     
  9. SarahL

    SarahL Registered User

    Dec 1, 2012
    229
    Delphie, your story mirrors mine so well. I sometimes had to leave when the venom was so awful too. I was completely crushed and couldn't make sense of anything back then :( I also had to defend myself with neighbours and police which really did hurt. My Mum is now in a care home although the paranoia has come back with a vengeance and the Mental Health team are coming in to do an assessment. Isn't it sad we have all been through this but I'm so thankful for this forum. To Harry's relatives, please try not to take any of the accusations to heart and maybe Jack could have a look at the Alzheimer's Soc website as it contains really good information to try and take away any worries.
     
  10. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    10,546
    Female
    South coast
    I had this with mum too. She started saying that a dear and valued friend was stealing from her and she didnt want her in her house. Her friend was understandably upset and it was the first thing that alerted us to the fact that there was dementia.

    There is a good outcome here though as, after a rocky few months, mum forgot these accusations and they have remained friends.
     
  11. susy

    susy Registered User

    Jul 29, 2013
    806
    North East
    So sorry that this has happened. Please think about letting jack read this site and allowing him to learn an awful lot about this disease. This place has massively opened my eyes to dementia and to care available and all the trials and tribulations within.
    I would definitely have him checked for a UTI, this can often change behaviour. Other than that going along with the story often seems the best way. As far as the sufferer believes, what they are thinking is the truth. He truly believes this is what has happened. This is his truth. You need to accept this and deal with it accordingly. It's really hard to get your head around but it will help when you do xxxx
     
  12. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    4,296
    SW London
    The one I found hardest was when my mother became obsessed with the idea that her sister had 'stolen' their mother's house. We had paid a rare visit to my aunt's house, where my mother noticed a few things that had come from their childhood home. Therefore, in her poor old head, that WAS their childhood home and my aunt had 'stolen' it and deprived her of her share.

    This went on literally for months, on and on and on, saying the most horrible things about my poor aunt, and becoming very angry when I tried (at first) to explain that their mother's house had long been sold and she had had her share.

    In the end I just had to keep saying, how terrible, I'd had no idea, I would get on to a solicitor first thing in the morning. But it was horrible having to agree that my poor, much-loved aunt was the devil incarnate.
     
  13. RedLou

    RedLou Registered User

    Jul 30, 2014
    1,162
    Ah - Witzend - I can't go that route. To me, it's not only about managing the one with dementia but also about managing oneself. I have to keep a sense of self in all this and I have to feel truthful about the big things. I think I'm down for a lot of 'It's a shame you feel like that,' truisms, which will also probably inflame.:( Also, if I did mention solicitors they would become one of my dad's obsessive loops. He's always on at me about getting solicitors and accountants to go and see him.
     
  14. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    10,546
    Female
    South coast
    I think you have to go with whatever works - whether its little while lies, or the truth told gently, or distractions, or even a firm "no, she wouldnt do that". There is no one-size-fits-all with dementia and everyone is different. Use whichever tool is most helpful - but if what you are doing is making them distressed then its time to use a different tack.
     
  15. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    4,296
    SW London
    Yes, I wasn't implying that mine was the only way. It was the right - or at least the least stressful - way at the time, for us. By which I mean it would stop the endless 'on and on and on' for just a little while, when no other approach would.
     
  16. RedLou

    RedLou Registered User

    Jul 30, 2014
    1,162
    I still have a problem with why the demented one's distress comes first. What about everyone else's distress at agreeing with slander? I totally agree with you and Witzend about 'own paths,' and it's helpful to have that kind of strategy, but I do think that sometimes, depending on circumstance, the path has to pay attention to us and our feelings, not just the person with dementia. For example, there's no way the OP can agree with the brother-in-law. Imagine how Jack would feel! To me, Jack is the most important person in all this because he is actually the most vulnerable and impressionable.
     
  17. WIFE

    WIFE Registered User

    May 23, 2014
    857
    WEST SUSSEX
    RedLou - my husband of 43 years went to his bank and told them I was stealing all his money. They took his side - I, with my husband's agreement because he had forgotten what he had done by this time - changed his account to a joint one at another bank so I could legally monitor what was going on. Of course, nothing untoward but I quickly realised it was just another weird symptom of his increasing dementia.
     
  18. Delphie

    Delphie Registered User

    Dec 14, 2011
    1,252
    I'm with Witzend about making those kinds of noises if the accusations are a bit... removed. If so and so from down the road or some less immediate family member was being accused I could be vague and back off, but not when it came to my boys. A mother's protective instinct I suppose.

    And when it came to mum accusing me, well agreeing couldn't/wouldn't really work. She could get herself worked up in seconds and nothing, and I mean nothing, would placate her. The thefts were a massive fixation and her life pretty much revolved around them for a longish period. She bothered solicitots, banks, even the local council offices, and in her head I'd been arrested, prosecuted, served time (she seemed to enjoy shouting that if I thought she was visiting me in prison again I had another thing coming) so I didn't want to be feeding those confabulations, and I didn't have the emotional resilience to stand there and take it either, so my method was to give her a chance to settle down and if she didn't, which was most likely, I'd leave.

    It was the toughest of times, emotionally for obvious reasons, but also practically. I was taking time away from work, trying to keep her safe and as looked after as I could, and nothing was working. She was almost permanently stressed and angry, and I was almost permanently stressed, upset and knackered due to a busy schedule and insomnia.

    I really feel for anyone else going through something like this. It can be a slow walk into a breakdown.
     
  19. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    4,296
    SW London
    #19 Witzend, May 11, 2015
    Last edited: May 11, 2015
    Well, I so agree about one's own feelings. The only time I ever really lost it with my mother was when she was (again) saying horrible things about my OH and daughters - not theft, but they didn't like me coming to see her, they resented it, they always nastily tried to prevent me.
    Doesn't sound so much now but it was so bitterly hurtful, besides being the complete reverse of the truth. Daughters and OH had always been so lovely to her. Quite apart from which, daughters were not even living at home at the time! Not that this cut any ice with her, of course - she 'knew'.

    I shouted that if she didn't stop saying such horrible things NOW, then I was going home this minute! And I meant it, and she must have known I did, since she did shut up about it, at least for that evening.
    I have never felt guilty about that outburst, either. There had been so much of that sort of thing - I had bitten my tongue so many times because 'it's the disease' , but it was so very hard.
    We all need to let off steam once in a while IMO. Though as I've said before, my usual method was to escape to the car for a few minutes, put Bohemian Rhapsody on loud, and have a really good scream!
     
  20. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    10,546
    Female
    South coast
    The problem with dementia is that you are not going to change their mind-set by correcting them. Mum had this delusion that she had remarried and the person she had married was her son :eek: I tried to gently remind her that this person was her son, not her husband and she would remember for a while - but 5 mins later would again think that she had re-married.
    If you cant change their mind-set then you have to manage it - using whichever method works. The reason IMO that the needs of the person with dementia often comes first is because if you dont then that person is constantly kicking off and gets more and more angry which makes it much worse for the people around them. If you cant get them to agree that they are wrong, then you have to just stop them going on and on about it for your own sanitys sake.
     

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