How can I stop my mother from fixating on a delusion about me?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Kwulf asked...

I just read your answer to a question and you talked about "fixed" delusions. My mother has this and it has become so bad that I haven't been able to see her in a few months. My mom believes that I have stolen a silver dollar from her and calls me at least once a week and says really mean things to me, calling me very bad names and will tell everyone she talks to that I have stolen from her. My son who has been there to help has even become frustrated because she is mad at him for not going to my house to get it back. I know that she is sick but i am very hurt that this is the way she will feel about me for the rest of her life. My sisters don't really understand because she still loves them most of the time. So my question is should I try to go see her, Im scared this will cause her too become very upset.

Expert Answers

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

This must be so hurtful for you knowing you have done nothing to incur her anger and yet she remains angry and it is all directed at you. This is considered misplaced displeasure in the truest sense and emanates from the disease itself. Her verbal animosity stems from her brain not functioning in tune with reality and you just happen to be the target - it could have just as easily been another family member. There usually is no way to predict who may be the focus of a perceived wrong-doing. Your mom's feelings toward you will most likely change in time and your relationship will return to where it once was. I think you are right in trying to visit occasionally and get a feel for how the atmosphere is, but you must be prepared to exit swiftly at the very first sign of agitation directed toward you. Try to not dwell on the hurt of today, but think back instead to the good times of yesterday. Unfortunately, you can not try to reason with her nor can you try to convince her you did nothing with her 'silver dollar'. Attempts to discuss her false accusations will result in increased agitation and only make her 'delusion' seem more real. Her false reality is quite real to her and she no longer can use reasoning to work through these pseudo-thoughts. I'm sure she would be quite sorrowful is she realized what emotional pain she was causing by being so unloving toward you. I would definitely let her physician know of this behavior and hopefully a medication can be prescribed to help control her delusions and paranoia. Do be kind to yourself and rest assurd you have done the best you possibly can do.

Community Answers

Jane f answered...

Kwulf, so sorry to hear about this frustrating behavior about theft accusations. I too experienced this with my mother in law. i was the primary target, but also targeted were the neighbors (several of them). There is really nothing you can do to change her "delusion", if you try to defend yourself or reason with her it will only cause agitation. The expert that answered this question was right on! I had to make the choice to totally remove myself from seeing her, caring for her, or even talking to her over 4 years ago. That was hard to do, but I felt it was best for her. It gets harder when it comes to the delusions causing our loved ones to involve the police to report the false thefts too. We have dealt with that FREQUENTLY! It is upsetting to think others may believe we would actually take anything from them, but honestly it does happen every day. But in your situation, the theft of only one silver dollar would surely let the professionals know what they are dealing with. I agree speaking to the doctor is the best idea. I can't do that since my brother in law holods the power of attorney and I do not know who the doctor is now anyway. Hopefully a medication could help your loved one.