• All threads and posts regarding Coronavirus COVID-19 can now be found in our new area specifically for Coronavirus COVID-19 discussion.

    You can directly access this area >here<.

Accused of stealing


Registered User
Jan 17, 2016
I'm looking after my mum and she is in denial about her dementia, sadly. She is a very stern, independent woman, in her 70s. The last two years things have been getting progressively worse such as mum asking for the return for things she has given as gifts/presents or handing down of baby items saying they were never gifts just loans. Can't understand how baby presents are a loan but anyway. Just recently my family spent Christmas with her and Dad and it was great. Then They came to me for New Year for dinner. Whilst we were chatting my daughter (who's 5) went and got her money box of loose change to 'show off' to her nanny and grandad. Thought nothing of it. Anyway, I have received a phone call from my mother (2 weeks later) accusing my daughter of stealing her money and putting it in her money box and that she stole it from her Christmas Day! She said she knows exactly what has gone missing and it's been put in my daughters money box and she is now demanding it back. Now, I have been utterly devasted and have been crying for days. My daughter did NOT leave my mothers house with any money, I would have noticed her pockets being full (she's 5) . Myself and my DP have asked her did she bring back any pennies from nannies and up until today has said no (and We believe her). My kids have been brought up morally. The thing which is really upsetting is she is telling other family my daughters a thief. I just find it utterly unbelievable. My dp is devasted too and now all my children do not want to see their nanny, I don't blame them, they do not want to be accused of stealing. All this because my daughter showed her money box. How has it gone from a Xmas/New Years meal .... To this?
one family member has said ignore it, she's odd... But I just can't. The stigmas now attached is just awful. My sister has said go and talk to her... There is no point, I'm not going to try and reason with her, I won't win anyway. I have nothing to 'reason' with mum over my daughter no their. So I'm left with no choice, my own family no longer want to see her, or have her in our home. My dp has made a decision that non of our children will visit her again until she apologises (which will never happen). Now, the next awful thing is, these people I've cried to will repeat it to mum, and my mum will attack me over it because I've complained and cried over what she said. Basically she's right I'm wrong. The whole family is falling apart. Right now I can't bear to even look at mum.

I'm so sad. I cry. I can't comprehend what's happened. I just don't know what to think or do.

Thank you



Registered User
Jul 20, 2011
Hi Kay

What has happened is dementia. The story that you tell is typical of someone with dementia. It is the dementia talking not your mum. The changes in the brain cause people to say and do things that they have no control over. Your Mum, the real Mum, would be as devastated as you are if she knew and understood what is happening but the reality is that she doesn't.

I can't stress enough that difficult though this is for you and your family this is not your Mum talking and you need to understand that because right now she and your Dad need your support more than ever.

My children (older than yours but children nevertheless) learned how to live with dementia and how to understand it and how to become compassionate human beings and on a mission to help others to understand too. My son was a young carer and now volunteers with other young carers. My daughter is less involved but understands the needs of people with dementia and that in their world she comes second and puts them first. In the world that our children grow up dementia will be more and more common and we need to educate our children to help and to be part of communities with people suffering (yes really suffering) from dementia.

So what can you do
for your own sanity do not take the words of someone with dementia personally.
I suggest that you read this and pass it on to your dad and teach your children about it too
This leaflet on compassionate communication is very useful - I found it very hard to master but I stuck it on my fridge to remind me every day and it really does work

Do have a look at it

It will help - it was stuck on our fridge and in fact my son 'got it' long before I did - children are amazing - don't let your daughter get stuck on Grandma accusing her of stealing money - teach her to brush it off as 'grandma is having a difficult time'.

There is lots of information on here and lots of support. TP is brilliant, ask questions because this is a rocky road but there is a LOT of help here and out there too.

Welcome xxx


Registered User
Nov 29, 2015
Unfortunately, this is a common symptom of dementia -the delusion that people are stealing things from them. You cant reason with people with dementia - you have to distract or think up a love lie.
If its not too late, couldn't you go round her house and "find" some coins and say you found them down the cushions of a sofa/underneath the sofa/under a carpet or rug etc and think they must be hers - the ones that she's missing. If she says its the wrong amount, ask her how much more is missing and you will look for it.
Let the rest of the family know that you "found" this money as well, as it might de-fuse the situation. I am sure the rest of your family know that your 5 year old daughter didnt steal any money, and in reality no money has been lost by your mother, but it is the disease that is making her say that and so you have to think up things to get round the situation by appearing to believe there is some money missing but there is another explanation.
Please be assured there is no stigma to a person with dementia accusing someone of stealing, as it is so common

If she is still fixated on your daughters money box, couldnt you tell her that she had the money in it before Christmas day, so her money must be lost somewhere else?

Has your dad got dementia too? If not you could involve him in this as if things have gone to far for you to visit and "find" the money, maybe he could help.

Here is a link that will help you understand the situation and how to deal with it - show it to your friends and family as well so they can understand your mothers behaviour


My husband is in a care home now and is still convinced people are stealing from him .


Registered User
May 21, 2014
I am afraid accusations of stealing are entirely normal with dementia. You must try not to take it personally. Such is the nature of dementia that they are confused about what happened to their possessions. Fizzie has already given you the Compassionate Communication link. Please print it out and give it to your family. There is no reason that they cannot understand that this is the dementia talking and nothing else. Please don't let the family disintegrate over something like this - believe me, dementia might throw bigger problems your way and you'll need the family to be understanding and united.


Registered User
Aug 29, 2007
SW London
Accusations of stealing are SO common with dementia, but it's not something most people are aware of until they meet it head on. Please make sure all your family, and anyone else involved, know it's the dementia talking. People with dementia can get absolutely fixated on an idea that X has stolen Y and go on and on about it. My mother did, and my FIL, but it's very sad that yours should have picked on a child and her money box.

I know it's no comfort now, but this particular angry bee buzzing in her head will probably buzz off eventually. Among other things, my mother went through a phase of insisting that her sister had 'stolen' their mother's house (illegally got her hands on all the value) and would say the most awful things about her. Nothing I said could convince her - TBH even cast iron proof signed and stamped by the Lord Chancellor wouldn't have worked - but it did pass eventually.

I would certainly explain to any children who may be upset by this, that poor granny is not well, her brain isn't working properly any more, she can't help it, and the 'old' granny who was well would never have said or thought such things.

Someone else's idea of 'finding' the money is a good one, and well worth a try. I wish I could have 'found' the house my poor aunt was supposed to have nicked!


Registered User
Jul 16, 2015
Your poor daughter only knows that everyone is upset and her nanny is angry with her and that somehow it's her 'fault' - I think your first priority has to be to let her know that she hasn't done anything wrong and that you and her dad still love her.

If your mum does have dementia, other family members will know (or will realise in time) and will know that this is all imaginary. What does your dad say in all this - can he try to calm your mum down?

If it was me, I'd try to take a break from the situation, and avoid talking to or meeting your mum for a few weeks so hopefully she will move on. Your priority has to be your little girl, and trying to protect her from an upsetting environment that she can't understand, and that means that you need to try to put it behind you as well or else you are making the impact on your daughter worse.


Registered User
Apr 24, 2013
Not sure a 5 year old will understand,might be best to keep her away till this phase has passed
I'm afraid that would be my decision too. You cannot have a small child being made miserable because of an elderly woman's dementia. There are other family members who can takeover meantime. Give her time and space and don't refer to it again in front of your children.

Amy in the US

Registered User
Feb 28, 2015
I agree with what others have said here. MissKay, we know this is difficult and dreadfully upsetting, nobody is saying it's not.

But, as fizzie says, what has happened, is dementia. This is not your mother talking, this is the dementia talking. You cannot reason with a person with dementia and often it only makes the situation worse, if you try.

Stealing is a very common delusion with dementia. The operative word here is delusion. A delusion is a false, fixed belief. Unfortunately, delusions are very common with dementia. Given time, and a lack of triggering, they will often fade, but it could happen again, or it could be a different delusion next time. I do want to reassure you that this is NOT your fault. The dementia is to blame, not you! Please repeat that to yourself, until you believe it.

This is not worth your family falling apart over. You all need some information and a deep breath and perhaps a little physical distance from your mother. I would not visit her, or take your children to visit her, until this delusion has passed. You may unwittingly be a trigger for the "stealing" delusion, or your daughter may be. Again, this is not personal. You CANNOT take this sort of thing personally or it will overwhelm you. Sometimes, you have to be a mixture of tough and detached, to deal with dementia. This is easier said than done, as are many things with this awful disease.

I know you are not going to like the next thing I say, and I'm not trying to upset you, but I must be blunt: I can understand not wanting to visit your mother until she apologizes, but you must understand that having your mother apologize is NOT a reasonable expectation for someone with dementia. She may not remember the stealing episode. She certainly does not view it, the same way the rest of you do. Her brain is not working properly, she cannot do logical thinking. She may often look and sound and appear normal, but she has dementia, and this whole issue with the "stolen money" is a delusion (a false, fixed belief) which is brought on by the dementia. It cannot be fixed by talking about it, as you would do with someone who doesn't have dementia.

It is also not possible to convince your mum that she has dementia, nor is it necessary to do so. In fact, it is possibly an unkind thing to do, and will likely only cause distress for everyone involved. Her inability to understand that she has dementia is likely not denial, but rather a symptom of the disease.

I think you need support not just for your mum, but for you. As I'm not in the UK and have an imperfect understanding of the situation, I will defer to what others say, but think you should ring Age UK, the Alzheimer's Society, and any local agency, to find out about help and support. TP is an excellent resource, and always open, but you sound very stressed. I wonder if you might talk to your GP, see about a therapist/counselor, find a local carers group, something of that nature.

Could the UK posters please supplement my last paragraph with better advice?

Apologies for any distress I have caused. I am sorry it is so difficult.


Registered User
Jul 20, 2011
I do agree with all that Amy has said and also that it is hard to explain the day to day effects of memory loss over an internet forum. Compassionate Communication link is good but I would agree that some face to face support would be very valuable for you at this time
My life saver was our carers cafe where people swapped stories and difficulties over a cup of coffee in a stress free non-judgemental environment. If you phone your local carers organisation or give us some idea of where you are in the country if you need extra help finding somewhere, and pop along to the carers cafe you will find it is well worth your time even if you have to take time off work.
Hope this helps


Registered User
May 21, 2014
Don't talk yourself down, Amy, I think you have quite a good grasp on the UK system by now.

The Alzheimer's Society offers courses for understanding dementia. If I remember correctly, they are called CRISP courses. Phone your local branch and ask whether they offer this or similar at the moment. They can also give you lots of other support.

Amy in the US

Registered User
Feb 28, 2015
With apologies to the OP for the tangent: Beate, many thanks, you are too kind. I just wouldn't want to give anyone bad advice on here. Also, there are days where, having just thought I'd figured out how something works here, only to be proven wrong yet again, I doubt that I know ANYTHING. I'm sure you know the feeling. But I appreciate the kind words!


Registered User
Mar 4, 2013
Auckland...... New Zealand
I haven't yet been accused of stealing Mums money, that may come as I have POA & authority on Mum & Dads bank accounts, so my time may still come.
Mum has accused " someone of stealing" her clothes when she cannot find them.
So far as she is at a moderate stage, she has laughed it off rather than getting agitated and taking it seriously.
Years back a family member whose father had dementia accused her of opening up banks accounts in his name and applying for loans. He even went as far as making a police complaint. It was so far fetched. How can a woman apply for a bank account under the name of a man!? :eek::mad:

I cannot add much more than what is said.

The hardest part of dementia is all family members being on different pages, when it comes to a grasp of dementia.
The ones that don't understand and are more inclined to beleive what is said is true are the ones that don't visit an awful lot, therefore spend little time with them to get the true picture. Often they think its just the short term memory, but its so much more than that.

I think if you could get a group email between whatever family members to establish a few facts might make the situation a bit more tolerable.
Include a few links to TP with further info.