Hollenbeck Palms

Dear Laura: My mother is acting confused and accusing me of stealing her money

“Dear Laura” is a regular series with our in-house dementia care expert, Laura Wayman. Laura is a best-selling author and internationally recognized speaker on the topic of memory loss. She has trained our whole staff on how to best communicate and care for those experiencing dementia symptoms.


Dear Laura,

My mother is in a rehab facility due to a recent fall that resulted in a broken hip. During her stay, the staff noticed signs of confusion, suggesting she might need to be evaluated for a potential transition to a memory care facility. Her doctor also recommended further evaluation. I am concerned because she is displaying strange symptoms. For example, after assisting her with financial matters for over 20 years, she now suspects that I am stealing her money, which is not true.

Any help would be much appreciated.

Warm regards,

A concerned and loving daughter


Dear concerned and loving daughter,

It is understandable to feel worried, especially when faced with potential cognitive issues in a loved one that are confusing. This definitely sounds like dementia symptoms.

Addressing dementia symptoms can be challenging, especially when the individual does not recognize their condition. Here are some strategies to help manage these symptoms:

  • Clear Communication: Use affirmative and supportive language. Avoid overwhelming them with questions or choices. Frame conversations in a way that provides solutions rather than posing problems.
  • Pressure-Free Interaction: Spend quality time without any expectations. Allow them to be in their current state of mind. Reduce unnecessary responsibilities and understand that their feelings, even if based on misconceptions, are very real to them.
  • Avoid Rational Debates: Engaging in fact-based discussions about their condition might not be productive. Understand that they might not be fully aware of the care they need. Making decisions in their best interest might mean doing so without their complete agreement.
  • Validate Their Emotions: Allow them to express their feelings without trying to alter or challenge them. These emotions are real for them, even if they seem irrational.
  • Self-care: While caring for your mother, do not neglect your own well-being. If necessary, seek assistance from a specialized facility.

It is crucial to approach the situation with empathy and understanding. Your mother’s feelings and reactions are genuine to her, and managing them requires patience and compassion.

I hope this helps. And if you have any questions about Hollenbeck Palms’ Hensel Memory Enhancement Center, make sure to email [email protected], or call 323.307.4505. Hollenbeck Palms offers independent, assisted living as well as memory care and skilled nursing.

Laura Wayman

The Dementia Whisperer