Happy Thanksgiving. We are traveling, visiting with family and enjoying the time away from home. We are also thinking about all the things and people we are so thankful for. Our lives overflow with gratefulness. For our loved ones, for our friends, for those of you who read our work, for those of you who comment, tell their stories and ask questions. We are so grateful for you all.
Here's one of those overheard comments, from Carrie:
"John was experiencing an episode of Capgras, (believing I was someone else) and accused me of trying to put one over on him. I really considered telling him I was sorry, but I was afraid that it would just make things worse the next time."
Yes, we do recommend that Carrie say she’s sorry. If one is being totally reasonable, it does seem to be a setup for John to believe that if Carrie has done it once, she will do it again. The difference is that someone who is experiencing Capgras, or any delusion, is NOT reasonable. What they really want is validation. They want you to know that they are feeling vulnerable, hurt, afraid, worried…all those negative feelings that make the delusions worse. The more negative feelings a person has, and the stronger they become, the more likely the person is to remember an event.
Therefore, Carrie’s job is to help John let go of those destructive negative feelings as quickly as possible. If she can let him know that she hears him, that she recognizes his fear, he can let go of it. Then, he probably won’t remember the incident. The next time will be a totally separate event. However, if Carrie resists and doesn’t calm his fears, those negative feeling will increase and John probably WILL remember next time. What he’ll remember is that Carrie lied to him. That he accused her of something he KNEW was true and she didn’t own up, that she resisted. Obviously, she isn’t to be trusted.
So, do try saying you are sorry when your loved one accuses you of something, even if it is ridiculous, even it it gauls you to do so. Give it a try. See how it works. But don’t do this half-heartedly. You have to say it like you mean it. Remember, your loved one is also very perceptive about feelings and if you don’t mean it, it isn’t going to work. And you ARE sorry. You are sorry about the whole incident, that he feels that way, etc. So focus on that and “play your part.” See what happens.
Of course, we don’t promise that it will work, even if you do everything right. Everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another. Nevertheless, this works for more care partners than not, and so it is definitely worth a try, or even a couple of tries before you give up.
For information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia
Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors. As informed caregivers, they share the information here foreducational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a physician's advice.