Dear Annie: My parents are in their 80s. My father has been having strokes, and his right side is mostly paralyzed. He is usually in a wheelchair.
Whenever I visit, Mom cries that Dad is having an affair with a woman who lives in the same apartment complex, and that this woman has stolen things when Mom is not at home. Mom claims the woman has taken paper towels, silverware, plates, food, etc.
My 57-year-old sister, who is Dad's caregiver, is tired of hearing my mother complain that items are missing. My sister told me that Mom misplaces things all the time, no one is stealing anything and Dad is not having an affair.
We've tried telling Mom that Dad has enough trouble, that she is misplacing these things herself and nothing is going on with another woman, but then she becomes upset because we don't believe her. How do we resolve this?
- Salem, Ore.
Dear Salem: Has your mother seen her doctor recently? Her complaints indicate some paranoia and irrational thinking, which are indicative of Alzheimer's. Claims of theft are particularly common. Please take her for a complete examination and ask for an evaluation of her mental functioning.