How to deal with Capgras Syndrome in dementia

Capgras Syndrome is a relatively common symptom in certain forms of dementia, and it can be very difficult to deal with as a carer. In this post we give some tips on the best way to approach the situation…


What is Capgras Syndrome in dementia?

With Capgras Syndrome, your loved one with dementia will experience the irrational belief that a friend, spouse, child or other close family member has been replaced by an impostor – an exact duplicate.

Named after Joseph Capgras, the French psychiatrist who discovered it, the syndrome is also sometimes seen in those who have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.


The problems

Naturally, it can be highly distressing for the caregiver or the person who has been identified as an ‘impostor’, as well


as the person experiencing the delusion.

Unfortunately, the way that many caregivers approach the situation can be counter-productive, and may increase difficulties dealing with the condition.


So what is the best way to deal with Capgras Syndrome?

Comforting person with capgras syndromeHowever strange it may sound, you need to enter into the reality of the person who has dementia. Imagine if you believed that your house had been invaded by a total stranger disguised as someone you care about, and how terrifying that must be. As if coping with dementia wasn’t difficult enough already!

Another step you need to take is to stop correcting the person with Capgras Syndrome. Trying to correct someone with dementia is a constant struggle, as they are unable to keep hold of facts for more than a couple of minutes.

Also, constantly correcting your loved one can create arguments and worsen the situation. These arguments are unlikely to do anything other than provoke feelings of resentment and confusion, which could seriously damage your relationship with your loved one and compromise your position as a carer.

The final thing to do is to create positive emotional experiences. If you were in the position of your loved one, what would your needs be? Try to be reassuring and make your loved one feel safe.


Where can you go for advice and support?

Dealing with Capgras Syndrome in dementia can be incredibly difficult, but if you acknowledge your loved one’s feelings and follow the steps outlined above, it should be more manageable.

If you need further support, charities such as Dementia UK and the Alzheimer’s Society provide helpful resources for anyone affected by any type of dementia.

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