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Dementia delusions and how to respond

Dementia delusions and how to respond

New Age Care News

Dementia delusions and how to respond

What causes delusions

Dementia affects the way the brain works and how a person sees the world. As the condition progresses some people struggle with memory issues and forget people, places and things. They also struggle to correctly put bits of information together and come to conclusions that are not correct. People with dementia often lose the ability to think logically and become delusional about a situation or person. No matter how bizarre it may be to you or me, for the person with dementia, they believe what they are saying is the truth. It’s important to remember that their behaviour is a result of the condition and the damage that is occurring in the brain and is not something they can help..


Most common delusions

Someone is watching me or after me

Dementia can cause disorientation and paranoia leading to feelings of anxiety and fear. This can then manifest itself into the person with dementia thinking that someone is watching or following them, and in some cases that someone is out to hurt them.

You’re attacking me

Some people with dementia can believe that their carer or loved ones are trying to hurt them. This can happen as a result of being startled or if they are just feeling generally anxious or fearful. This can be especially hard when all you are doing is trying to help.

Someone is stealing from me

Due to memory issues, people with dementia often forget where they put things or don’t think logically and misinterpret situations. This can often lead to them thinking that someone is stealing from them.

Seeing insects everywhere

Some people with dementia claim to see insects on them, their food and belongings. Some will refuse to eat as they truly believe it is crawling with bugs. 


Tips for responding to delusional behaviour

Delusional dementia behaviour can be upsetting and difficult to deal with, especially if it’s from someone you love. Always remember that it is not personal. The person with dementia’s brain now functions differently and for them their delusion is real, no matter how unreal or implausible it is to you. Here are our tips to help you deal with the situation

Don’t correct them & hear them out

It’s really important that when someone with dementia is delusional that you don’t try and correct them but rather listen to what they are saying. For them the delusion is a reality and if you try to argue or tell them otherwise, they won’t be open to hearing it and the situation can potentially escalate. Often just by listening to the person they may begin to calm down.

Understand their reality

For the person with the dementia their delusion is real. It may sound bizarre and crazy to you, but due to the nature of dementia, for them what they believe is the truth. Ask questions to understand what they are experiencing and what they believe. Open questions such as ‘Tell me more about that?’  work well.

Show empathy & reassure them

Show the person with dementia that you understand their situation and feelings. Reassure them that their feelings are valid and that you are there to help. If they are worried about someone being out to get them, check the doors and windows and let them know they are locked.


After acknowledging and reassuring the person with dementia about their beliefs look for ways to distract them. Suggest doing one of their favourite activities. You could also put their favourite show on the TV or play their favourite music.


Reducing and preventing delusions

While you may not be able stop some delusions from occurring there are some things you can do to try and reduce and in some cases prevent them.

Regular Testing
– Ensure the person with dementia has regular hearing checks and eye tests to ensure delusions are not caused by impairment.

– Some medications or a combination of medications can cause delusions, so ask about this before starting the person with dementia on any new medication.

Have a set place for things
– Having a set place for things that the person with dementia needs regularly will stop things getting mislaid or going missing which can then cause the person to believe you or someone else has stolen them.

Keep a routine – Routines are super important for those with dementia. It helps them feel safe and make sense of what’s going on around them and, hence reduce paranoia.


Further Information and Support


New Age Care Blogs

The lowdown on Dementia and how to recognise the early symptoms

Tips for Supporting someone with Dementia

Tips for Aggressive Dementia behaviour


Helpful links

Alzheimer’s Society

Dementia UK

Dementia Friends

Age UK


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