How should live-in caregivers deal with my mom's paranoia?

Whatthen asked...

My mom accuses her live-in caregivers of stealing, lying, and trying to poison her. She has threated to call police and even grabbed and tried to shove them out the door?

Expert Answer

Brenda Avadian, brings knowledge, hope, and joy to family caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer's and dementia. She cared for her father with Alzheimer's and helps families one-on-one and in groups. She is the author of eight books, including the pioneering memoir "Where's my shoes?" My Father's Walk through Alzheimer's and the Finding the JOY in Alzheimer's series. She presents vivid, compelling, and funny keynotes to both professional and family caregiving audiences.

Dealing with paranoia is hard enough when you're a family member, but this can prove especially troublesome for an in-home caregiver.

First, make sure your legal papers are in order indicating that the live-in caregiver has the right to be there. You don't want the police showing up and there being a scene because you have no paperwork to protect both your mom and her live-in caregivers.

Second, if the live-in caregivers are trained, for example in dementia care (you don't specify if your mom has dementia), they should already understand that this behavior is a symptom of some forms of dementia. They should keep a log of when your mom gets agitated and threatens to call the police or shove them out the door. They may find a pattern that they can then change.

Third, you may want to add a camera in her home--like parents do to keep an eye on potentially questionable baby sitters--to see what is causing your mother's agitation. This will allow you and the live-in caregivers to modify their behaviors or address other symptomatic issues with your mom.

Paranoia is one of the challenges caregivers encounter along the course of dementia (assuming this is what your mother has) and as the disease progresses, she will exhibit less paranoid behaviors.