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Dealing With Delusions

Today’s insight discusses what mom thinks is her reality. Don’t keep trying to calm her down, try these approaches instead.

Transcription of Video:

Hi, I’m Deb Nygaard with Arthur’s Residential Care with today’s Insight From Arthur’s.

Today I want to talk a little bit about delusion. Sometimes your loved one with dementia is going to see or hear things that aren’t really there. What we need to do is validate that those things are real to them. Validation means expressing to the individual that you get it — that you understand what they’re saying.

So if she thinks that the home health aide is stealing from her and says, “I don’t like that girl coming in because she steals my soap.” Well, maybe what is happening is that your mother is worried that girl is going to come in and steal the soap. So before she comes in, your mother hides the soap and you find 52 bars of soap behind her pillow. So every time your mother goes to the bathroom, there is no soap, because clearly (in your mother’s mind) that girl stole it. So what you want to do is let your mother know that you are getting the message. You don’t want to try to calm her and placate her because that communicates that you didn’t get the memo. So if you say, “You don’t like that girl coming in here, do you? You don’t like when your soap is missing, do you?” What you want to do next is redirect and relocate.

The first things you what to do is validate, then you redirect and then you relocate. So to redirect say something like this, “Mom, I’m going to look into this because this is a problem. In the mean-time, it’s almost lunch. Would you like to have tuna fish for lunch today?”

Then you relocate, “Let’s go to the kitchen. I’m going to fix that other problem.” You are trying to get her away from the thing that she is focused on.

Another example: your mother is sitting next to a window and she thinks that there is a little kid running into the street; she is going to keep thinking that as long as she is still sitting by the window. You can say, “Mom, you are really worried about that boy, aren’t you? Why don’t we go into the kitchen and get some coffee for you while I get that little boy taken care of and make sure his mommy knows where he’s at, okay?” The main point is getting her away from the window because it’s going to keep triggering those thoughts.

I’m Deb Nygaard with Arthur’s Residential Care.

Contact Deb Nygaard
Director of Development
Arthur’s Residential Care: 651-429-4798