Suspicious Minds


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Alzheimer’s can often be more devastating for family members than it is for the person who has it. Not only is it painful to watch a loved one go through such a life-and-personality-altering illness, but many of the behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s have a direct impact on the people closest to those who have the disease.

One of the most difficult of these behaviors is suspicion or paranoia, particularly when it’s directed at you.  Maybe your mother misreads your motives in offering to help her downsize or your dad thinks your efforts to obtain Power of Attorney are part of a scheme to swindle him.

At Home Instead Senior Care serving the Southeast Valley, we have worked with countless devoted family members and caregivers who have been through experiences such as this and we have found that the following tips are among the most effective ways of dealing with the paranoia that sometimes accompanies Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

• Deflect, deflect, deflect: We understand that it can be hurtful to be accused of wrongdoing or ulterior motives by someone when you are only trying to do what’s best for them, but it’s important to not take the paranoia personally. When you start to get offended, try to remind yourself that this is simply a common effect of Alzheimer’s and visualize a flapjack on Teflon or water rolling off a duck’s back.

• Don’t ignore or dismiss the fears: Even though you can’t let it get to you, we do recommend giving the person with Alzheimer’s the opportunity to voice their concerns and trying to understand that reality. Try to be reassuring, without arguing with them or trying to tell them that they’re wrong.

• Take a Detour: Try to change the subject or the activity if it seems like it’s beginning to cause problems. For example, if you are trying to help your mother get rid of items and she thinks you are taking her things, pick up something nearby (like a photo album or a cherished memento) and ask her questions about it.

• Two (or four or six) are better than one:  You can’t exactly go out and purchase multiple heirlooms or high-end items, but for the little things that tend to get lost or mislaid (reading glasses, slippers, wallets) consider getting few clones. This is especially helpful if your senior immediately assumes that something he’s lost has been stolen.

For more information, please contact Home Instead Senior Care serving the Southeast Valley at 480-827-4343 or Like us on Facebook.

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