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Signs of Dementia: Paranoia, Accusations, and Lying

Dealing with an elderly parent lying can be quite cumbersome. If your loved one has dementia and is frequently lying, you may be wondering the following questions.

  • Does someone with dementia tell lies?

  • Is lying a symptom of dementia?

  • How do I deal with my elderly loved one thinking someone is stealing from them?

In this post, we will answer all of these questions and more about dementia, paranoia, and accusations.

Do Dementia Patients Make Up Stories?

Do dementia patients tell the truth? That’s a complicated question to answer. When it comes to patients suffering from dementia, making up stories can simply be a way to fill in the memory gaps. This does not mean the person is being intentionally manipulative. They are simply using this as a creative coping mechanism.

What Is the Relationship Between Dementia and Lying?

We know now that dementia patients will often make up stories to cope but is making up stories a sign of dementia? Yes, it is. And while it can occur at any stage, it is most common among older adults with mid-to-late-stage dementia and can get worse as dementia progresses.

Below are some ways to explain the relationship between dementia and lying.

Confabulation in Dementia

Confabulation is when a dementia patient attempts to fill in missing gaps in their memory. When it comes to dementia and confabulation, it’s important to note that your loved one is not intentionally deceiving you. Instead, it is merely a way for them to cope. Confabulation is most common in those with Korsakoff syndrome but it can also develop in those with head injuries, schizophrenia, encephalitis, a ruptured aneurysm, or a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

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Anxiety and Paranoia in Dementia

Seniors with dementia often have short-term memory which can lead to anxiety and paranoia. This can manifest when they can’t find an item they’re looking for and can result in them accusing caregivers and loved ones of stealing. Too often, they will forget about spending money or moving items, which will make them paranoid and anxious about those around them.

How Do You Deal With False Dementia Accusations?

Dealing with false accusations from your loved one with dementia can be tiresome but you want to make sure you respond in a productive way. Below are some tips for responding to these accusations.

  • Don’t take it personally. Remember they are only saying these things because of their declining cognitive abilities. Respond to them calmly and validate their concerns.

  • Don’t argue or use logic to convince them otherwise. Their brain is not able to process logic the same way anymore. Let them express their ideas and concerns so it’s easier to distract them from these paranoid thoughts.

  • Distract them with a satisfying activity. Once you’ve validated them, switch to an engaging activity. This can include playing a game of cards or having them help with no-fail tasks such as folding laundry.

  • Keep matching copies of misplaced items on hand. If they keep misplacing an item such as their favorite pen, keep a matching version on hand so you can help them “find” it.

Create a calm environment. Try to reduce commotion by turning the TV off and speak to them in a calm, soothing voice.

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