Mom Has Dementia
My father is deceased, and my mother has early dementia. With her dementia has come some paranoia. She believes that my sister, who lives closest to her, is stealing money from her. The accusations are putting a strain on their relationship, and I do not know how to help. Mom needs my sister for support, and I am afraid that my mother will sever the relationship. By the way, there is no evidence to support Mom's claims. Mother does not have more than her social security to take. What do you recommend?
What your family is experiencing is a parent who is having delusions. Your mother is trying to process her world with a brain that is no longer functioning at the level it once did. It is very likely that she is struggling to keep track of her possessions. If she is relying on Social Security as her only source of income, concerns – or even fears – regarding money may grow in her mind.
Your mother is likely lashing out at your sister simply because she is around. Mom still has enough presence of mind to know that you are not around, so you are spared. Your sister is the only one to suspect at this point; therefore, she is the one being accused. This behavior is unfortunately not uncommon of a functional parent with dementia.
It is indeed distressing for your sister to be frequently accused of theft. Any mention of money, possessions, or planning for the future may plant a seed of distrust. This eventually grows into the idea of theft when your mother is hunting for something she misplaced. Caregivers are frequently on the hunt for items that have been tucked away for safekeeping, only to be found in the most unusual locations.
You should be grateful to your sister for her caregiving role. Take her calls, listen to her frustrations, and thank her for bearing the brunt of your mother's accusations. If you were present, it would be you.
I would also recommend a support group for your sister if she can find the time. Groups such as the Alzheimer's Association may be a wonderful source to start with. Managing the emotions and situations that occur with a parent who has dementia is challenging and stressful. We do get through it, though we tend to do much better with support. Do some research for your sister, as it is something you can do from a distance.
I wish you the best.
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