A person with dementia may make accusations against people around them, including family, friends and carers. The most common accusations are that others are trying to steal from them or harm them. They may also accuse their partner of being unfaithful, or of being an impostor. These false accusations can be distressing for someone caring for a person with dementia. Often the accusations are based on a hallucination or delusion on the part of the person with dementia. For more information on hallucinations see Sight, perception and hallucinations.
Accusing: tips for carers
- Don't take false accusations personally.
- Consider that a person may have confused the past and present, so accusations may be based on past experiences.
- Don't try to argue with or correct the person. What they are experiencing is real to them. Acknowledge their feelings and offer reassurance.
- Try to find the underlying reason for an accusation. If, for example, a person is accusing someone of theft of an item, is it because that person has forgotten where they placed the item?
- If the person is accusing someone else of something, don't automatically assume it is untrue. Investigate any accusations that could possibly be true.