Dementia can trigger a range of moods in elderly relatives, from fear and sadness to confusion and anger. Paranoia is one thing that family caregivers discover is quite common with their elderly relatives that have early to middle stages of dementia. Paranoia is the suspicion or mistrust of people or their actions without evidence. Elderly people with dementia are often paranoid about the people and places around them, like family caregivers, home care assistants, visitors, doctors and more.
What Causes Paranoid Delusions?
When people with dementia have paranoid delusions, it can be difficult for family caregivers to know what to do about them. Sometimes, the paranoia causes the elderly relative to misbehave or refuse to do something. Other times, it can become an obsession that is repeated over and over. Aging relatives can become agitated, fearful or aggressive about their paranoid delusions, so it’s important for relatives and caregivers to know what to do to get them calmed down.
It’s important for family caregivers to know that elderly relatives with dementia can experience delusions, which are false beliefs that are fixed in their minds. These fixed beliefs are hard to overcome because no logical argument can dislodge the idea from their heads. Seniors are often worried about the lack of control in their lives but dementia prevents them from properly processing those feelings. That’s where the paranoid delusions come in, as a way to push the blame onto something else.
How to Handle Paranoia in Elderly Relatives
-Family caregivers can provide proof of the falseness of the delusion all day long, but it still will not make a difference to their relative. It then becomes a battle of wills, with both sides growing frustrated, angry and impatient. The best way to handle paranoid elderly relatives is to talk to them and exercise extreme patience. Family caregivers also need to warn other family members, home care assistants and other visitors about the possibility of dealing with the paranoia
-Giving them sympathy without agreeing with their claims is often the best way to handle the situation.
Experts recommend letting the elderly person talk about what they are feeling and what they believe is happening. Letting them speak about what is foremost in their mind can often relieve the anxiety they feel.
-Expressing sympathy for how the elderly person is feeling is an important way to validate them without agreeing with what they are claiming. Listening attentively and then trying to gently change the subject is often the best approach. A fixed belief is very difficult to dislodge completely, but elderly people with dementia can often be redirected and the issue then is forgotten about.
-Family caregivers will quickly learn that trying to reason with elderly people won’t help and agreeing with them creates all kinds of problems. Sympathizing and redirecting are the best ways to handle paranoid elderly relatives. When everyone, including other family members and home care aides all, handles the issues the same way, it can lead to less agitation and worry with the elderly person with dementia.
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Since then, I have had a strong interest in helping and supporting our senior community as they age and are unable to care for themselves.Coming from a family of physicians, I am excited to be involved in the medical community by providing the highest levels of non-clinical in-home care to our clients and their families.With my work experience, I firmly believe that ApexCare can touch many lives and have a great impact on our local senior community.
Prior to joining ApexCare, I worked in a wide variety of industries and have owned multiple businesses ranging from construction to mortgage banking.Outside of work, I am an active youth soccer and basketball coach, having coached recreational soccer for over 8 years and elementary school basketball for over 4 years.I graduated with a BS in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and received a Masters of Management degree from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.My career has been focused on building great organizations that deliver the highest absolute levels of service to our clients.I look forward to continuing this passion with ApexCare.