You came to visit your mom and found her trembling on the sofa. She’s convinced that her neighbor threatened to shoot her when she took a walk this afternoon. You know the neighbor, and it seems out of character. You talk to that neighbor, and he just returned from work. He only just got home. He wasn’t home when she says this threatening encounter happened.
Delusions are a stage of Alzheimer’s that are frightening for everyone. Your mom is certain something happened, even though you have proof it didn’t. Her story seems so real, however, that you wonder if it really happened but with someone else. Sometimes, it’s impossible to tell what’s real from what’s fiction.
Delusions often occur in the middle and late stages of Alzheimer’s. They can be triggered by a television show your mom watched, something she saw on the news or something from her past.
No matter what causes the delusion, it’s a very real, very frightening situation to your mom. She remembers what happened vividly and is convinced it’s not her disease but that the events took place exactly as she describes them.
How to Handle It
Never tell your mom it’s all in her head. That’s only going to frustrate her and lead to arguments and hurt feelings. Don’t acknowledge the delusion as really having happened. Simply tell her you’re so sorry and that you’ll keep her safe.
Call your mom’s memory care specialist. If the delusions are so real that your mom is scared to leave the house, she needs help. Her doctor will likely recommend techniques like shifting your mom’s focus to something else or establishing an area where she feels completely safe. If that doesn’t work, prescription medications may be another way to help her.
Have a Support System in Place
Watching your mom decline is emotionally challenging. Make sure you have a support group in place where you can get answers, share your frustrations, and find friends who know what you’re going through.
Don’t forget to take breaks.
You can’t spend every hour caring for your mom, especially in the late stages of Alzheimer’s. Hire senior care professionals to ensure you get breaks.
Caregivers can handle the tasks that are harder for you to manage. Have caregivers help your mom with toileting and bathing. Let caregivers take care of the laundry and light housework. Use your newly acquired free time to spend time doing fun activities with your mom. Call a senior care agency to learn more about Alzheimer’s care services.