Tuesday, June 18, 2024
HomeIs Paranoia A Symptom Of Dementia

Is Paranoia A Symptom Of Dementia

Common Causes Of Paranoid Symptoms In Aging Adults

Shifting focus: Hallucinations and Paranoia

Paranoid symptoms falls into a category of mental symptoms that is technically called psychosis.

Symptoms of psychosis can include:

  • Delusions, which means believing things that;arent true or real.
  • Hallucinations, which means seeing or hearing things that arent there.
  • Disorganized thoughts or speech, meaning saying or thinking things that seem illogical or bizarre to others.

Psychosis is uncommon in younger people but becomes much more common as people get older. Thats because any of these symptoms can emerge when peoples brains arent working properly for some reason.

A;2015 review article on late-life psychosis;estimates that 23% of people will develop symptoms of psychosis in late life.

I like this review article because the authors organize the causes of late-life psychosis into six Ds:

  • Delirium .
  • This is a;very common condition of worse-than-usual mental function, often brought on by the stress of severe illness, surgery, or hospitalization. See 10 Things to Know About Delirium for more.
  • Drugs, alcohol, and other toxins
  • Medication side-effects can cause delusions, hallucinations, or other forms of psychosis. Pay special attention to medications known to affect memory and thinking. Abuse of or withdrawal from alcohol or other substances can also cause psychosis symptoms.

The authors of this review article also note that its common for older adults to have vision and hearing problems, both of which can trigger or worsen delusions and hallucinations.

Dementia And Paranoia In The Elderly

If a loved one of yours is suffering from dementia, paranoia, or both, it is completely understandable that you would want to learn as much information about the topic as possible. So, we at All American Home Care; are compiling our expertise on dementia with paranoia so that you can be equipped to interact with your loved one kindly, confidently, and without fear.

What If You Cant Do This Alone

Caring for somebody who has dementia and paranoia is definitely a challenging task, and its severity can be even greater depending on how deeply the persons cognitive function has declined. If you find yourself unable to care for somebody with dementia, contact us. At All American Home Care, we carefully assess what exactly your loved one needs. We can provide certified, expert caregivers to help your loved one experience a better quality of life at home. Our caregivers are available 24/7, even on the weekends! We value the importance of community, compassion, and kindness.

You dont have to weather this storm alone. Call us and see how we can help you today.

Read Also: Difference Between Senility And Dementia

Paranoid: Its A Common Added Stress On Caregivers

Paranoia is one of the symptoms of dementia, and particularly;Alzheimers disease. With any form of dementia, the brain functioning is compromised or altered and the elderly individual often becomes paranoid about any variety of issues, such as finances, caregivers, terrorism, and so on. Medications may make the problem worse, and the elderly persons primary care physician needs to evaluate that possibility.;However, for most elderly seniors, paranoia is just part of the territory of dementia, Alzheimers or not, and may be a natural aspect of the aging mind.

According to an article written by Muzumel A. Chaudhary, MD and Kiran Rabheru, MD, CCFP, FRCP, ABPN, new-onset paranoid symptoms are common among older individuals. They can signify an acute mental status change owing to medical illness, correspond to behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, or equate to an underlying affective or primary psychotic mental disorder. The implications of paranoid symptoms are considerable and affect patients, families, and caregivers alike. Accurate identification, diagnosis, and treatment of late-life paranoid symptoms present a unique clinical challenge as issues of morbidity and mortality are inherent both to the illness state and available treatment approaches.

BLOG Date: Tuesday, March 3, 2015Writer: Ryan Allen

Early Symptoms Of Dementia

Coping With Paranoia and Delusions in Alzheimer

Cognitive decline becomes classified as dementia when it is severe enough to interfere with daily life and activities. Alzheimers disease, for instance, one of the most widespread forms of dementia, causes brain cell function to deteriorate. Would you be able to recognize the symptoms of this creeping affliction? Keep reading to explore the subtle signs of dementia, which tends to worsen as you age.

Recommended Reading: How To Move A Parent With Dementia To Assisted Living

What Causes Paranoia In Older Adults

Many medical conditions can cause irrational anxiety, paranoid behavior, or persistent fear.

Alzheimers disease. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.

Brain tumors. A brain tumor is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in your brain.

Certain medications. Some medications can cause irritability, and sometimes auditory hallucinations and paranoia.

Cognitive impairment. This is a condition where a person has trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life.


Delirium. People with delirium may either be quiet and withdrawn or become extremely agitated and confused. The episodes of confusion can come with mostly paranoid delusions and hallucinations. Often, people with delirium will pick at invisible objects on their clothes or bed.

Dementia. Dementia is a group of conditions characterized by impairment of at least two brain functions, such as memory loss and judgment.

Late-onset symptoms of dementia may happen due to other psychiatric conditions, like schizophrenia, delusional disorder, depression, or bipolar disorder.

Vascular damage. This refers to damage to a blood vessel, for example as a result of a stroke, blood clot, or vessel narrowing.

What Medications Treat Dementia Symptoms

Dementia treatment focuses on correcting all reversible factors and slowing irreversible factors. Some of the important drug treatment strategies in dementia are described. Except for the cholinesterase inhibitors, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any drug specifically for dementia. The drugs listed here are some of the most frequently prescribed from each class.

Slowing the progression of dementia

Dementia due to some conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, can sometimes be slowed in the early-to-intermediate stages with medication. Many different types of medications have been or are being tried in dementia. The medications that have worked the best so far are the cholinesterase inhibitors.

Treating depression

Because depression is so common in people with dementia, treatment of depression can at least partially relieve symptoms.

  • Depression is usually treated with any of a group of drugs known as antidepressants.
  • The most important of these are the drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , for example, Fluoxetine , sertraline , paroxetine , citalopram .
  • Stimulant drugs such as methylphenidate may sometimes be used to treat depression in people with dementia.
  • Some of the medications that treat depression also help with anxiety.

Correcting drug doses and/or withdrawing misused drugs

Read Also: What Is The Difference Between Dementia And Senility

Avoid Proving Them Wrong

The best way to defuse paranoia is to acknowledge the persons reality. From there you can explore what is needed and meet that need. Imagine telling this woman her husband is deceased. She may not acknowledge his death to be true and could be very hurt by that thought. The news could also cause her to re-experience the trauma of his loss or she may strike out in anger, accusing this person of killing her husband.

What Are The Symptoms Of Middle Stage Of Alzheimer’s Disease

Dementia and Behaviour #8 Adaptive Paranoia
  • Starting to have trouble carrying out everyday activities such as bathing, dressing, and grooming without help
  • Major gaps in memory begin to be evident, with individuals often unable to recall their address, the year, the season, and recent events.
  • Individuals often incorrectly remember their personal history.
  • Inability to think clearly and solve problems
  • Inability to make judgments such as dressing for the weather
  • Difficulty with understanding or learning new information
  • Speaking, reading, and writing are difficult, but individuals can usually read and understand short phrases, especially common ones.
  • Individuals can be disoriented or confused even in familiar surroundings, occasionally forgetting names of people close to them.
  • Beginning to experience significant behavioral symptoms such as anxiety, suspiciousness, hallucinations, or delusions
  • They can still remember things that happened long ago and recognize people from early in their life.
  • They still recognize their own face.
  • They can interpret simple sensory experiences .
  • Walking and mobility are usually not difficult.
  • They can usually still eat and use the toilet without assistance.
  • Individuals can make decisions requiring a simple yes/no and either/or judgment

Read Also: What Is The Difference Between Dementia And Senility

Be Cautious Before Responding

Assess the situation before responding to the persons delusions. Is anyone at risk of harm?

If not, its often best to ignore the behavior stemming from a false belief. As long as the behavior does not become dangerous, you might not need to intervene, Heathman says.

For example, your loved one is walking around repositioning the placemats on the table and refolding the napkins. You ask them what they are doing and they say my boss is coming back soon and I need to have all of the tables in the restaurant set or I will get fired. Refolding napkins does not harm anyone. The unmet need here may be one of purpose or they may be anxious. In both cases, offering help would meet the need and allow you to connect with them.

Dealing With Delusions In The Elderly

Delusions among dementia patients typically result from their cognitive impairment. They occur when a senior tries to make sense of a situation, but their confusion and memory problems make it impossible.

They end up filling a hole in a faulty memory with a delusion that makes sense to them, Gwyther says. For example, if a loved one cannot find their purse, they may conclude it is missing because someone stole it. This phenomenon is called confabulation.

Read:Confabulation in Dementia Can Feel Like Hurtful Lies

Delusions can be frightening for the person living with dementia, but they can also be very hurtful for caregivers when they are the targets. Recognize that the elderly individual is living in a world that doesnt make sense to them and is likely scared. Do not take any accusations personally or respond with logical explanations. Instead, reassure the person and avoid asking questions that may only cause more confusion. If they are looking for an item, tell them you will help them find it. In cases where a loved one regularly misplaces an item and becomes agitated over the loss, the Alzheimers Association recommends purchasing a duplicate of the item to quickly resolve the issue until the original is found.

Recommended Reading: Does Medicare Cover Nursing Home Care For Dementia

Managing Memory Changes In Dementia

  • avoiding stressful situations providing emotional support, reducing background noise and distractions, and exercise can all help to reduce stress and improve memory
  • maintaining a regular routine keeping to a routine can help with a sense of security and reduce confusion
  • trying memory aids using memory aids like lists, diaries and clear written instructions, can help if the person with dementia is happy to use them.

Factors Which May Cause Behaviours To Change

About Dementia
  • Sensory defects such as poor eyesight or poor hearing
  • Side effects of some medications
  • Psychiatric illness
  • Inadequate lighting making visual clues less clear
  • Physical conditions such as infections, fever, pain, constipation, anaemia, respiratory disease, malnutrition, dehydration
  • Unfamiliar caregivers
  • Disruption of familiar routines
  • Misinterpretation of environmental cues often a result of forgetting to use a hearing aid or glasses
  • Sensory overload because of too many things going on at once.

Read Also: Senile Dementia Of Alzheimer’s Type

Why Does It Happen

Dementia can cause people to have difficulty with recognising people, places and things, particularly in later stages. Dementia can also affect peoples memory, so that they might not remember where they left something or why theyre in a particular place.

These problems with recognition and memory can lead to suspicion, paranoia and false beliefs. They might think that strange people are in their house; they might find themselves unexpectedly in a place they dont recognise. Objects might seem to disappear from the place they were sure they were in. Conversations theyre having might not make sense to them. People seek to understand these confusing and worrying events, and might do so by blaming someone or something else.

Delirium can also lead to the appearance or increase in false beliefs or different realities. If there is a sudden change in someones behaviour or thinking, or they appear much more confused than usual, it could be due to delirium. This should be investigated by a doctor immediately .

How can I recognise when a person with dementia is experiencing delusions?

The person with dementia might:

How To Check On Levels Of Decline And Safety

Its great for you to be proactive and want to help check on your mother safety and situation. Ultimately youll need to work with professionals, but you can speed the process along by checking for common red flags, and bringing them to the attention of your mothers doctor.

As a geriatrician, I generally try to assess an older person in the following five domains:

  • Ability to manage key life tasks
  • These include the ability to manage Activities of Daily Living and also Instrumental Activities of Daily Living .
  • Safety red flags
  • This includes signs of financial vulnerability or exploitation, risky driving, leaving the stove on, wandering, or signs of elder abuse.
  • Physical health red flags
  • These include weight loss, declines in strength or physical abilities, falls, frequent ER visits, and complaints of pain.
  • Mood and brain health red flags
  • These include common signs of depression , signs of loneliness or isolation, new or excessive worrying, as well as other signs of memory and thinking problems
  • Medication management red flags
  • These include signs of difficulty taking prescriptions as directed, checking on possible medication side-effects, and identifying medications that are on the Beers list of medications that older people should avoid or use with caution.
  • Because concerned family members often ask me about checking on an older parent, I created a guide with five checklists based on the five sections above.

    Also Check: What Is The Difference Between Dementia And Senility

    Could Paranoia Or Delusions Be A Sign Of Delirium

    If paranoia or delusions are a new behavior for your loved one or someone youre caring for, consider the possibility that she might be experiencing delirium. Delirium is a sudden change in thinking and orientation, usually quite reversible, brought on by a physical condition such as an infection, surgery or other illness.

    Alzheimer’s And Hallucinations Delusions And Paranoia

    Signs, Symptoms & Diagnosis of Dementia: Dementia Series, Part 2 | Dr. David Eagleman

    Due to complex changes occurring in the brain, people with Alzheimer’s disease may see or hear things that have no basis in reality.

    • Hallucinations involve hearing, seeing, smelling, or feeling things that are not really there. For example, a person with Alzheimer’s may see children playing in the living room when no children exist.
    • Delusions are false beliefs that the person thinks are real. For example, the person may think his or her spouse is in love with someone else.
    • Paranoia is a type of delusion in which a person may believewithout a good reasonthat others are mean, lying, unfair, or out to get me. He or she may become suspicious, fearful, or jealous of people.

    If a person with Alzheimers has ongoing disturbing hallucinations or delusions, seek medical help. An illness or medication may cause these behaviors. Medicines are available to treat these behaviors but must be used with caution. The following tips may also help you cope with these behaviors.

    You May Like: How Fast Does Dementia Kill

    Why Does Dementia Cause Delusions Hallucinations And Paranoia

    When healthy nerve cells in the brain begin to degrade and cease to connect with other cells in the brain, the symptoms of dementia that often include delusions, paranoia or hallucinations will begin to appear. In general, people will lose a certain percentage of neurons as they grow older, but seniors who suffer from dementia will suffer a higher percentage of cell loss than normal. Dementia is usually found in seniors, and those aged 85 and up are more likely to have at least some form of the condition. That being said, there are many seniors who live well past the age of 90 and will never experience any form of dementia. A specific form of dementia, frontotemporal disorders, is typically experienced by middle-aged people as opposed to seniors.

    Dementia is used as a catch-all term for a series of conditions and diseases that present with an overall decline in certain functions. A decline of language, memory, basic thinking skills, and the ability to solve problems are the main symptoms. Dementia sufferers also often experience what is called Sundowners Syndrome. Memory loss is one of the most notable side effects of dementia, and Alzheimers disease is the leading cause of dementia in senior citizens.

    What Is The Life Expectancy For A Person With Dementia

    The outlook for most types of dementia is poor unless the cause is an early recognized reversible condition. Irreversible or untreated dementia usually continues to worsen over time. The condition usually progresses over years until the person’s death. Life expectancy after diagnosis averages about 8-10 years with a range from about 3-20 years.

    Making decisions about end-of-life care is important.

    • The earlier in the disease these issues are discussed, the more likely the person with dementia will be able to express his or her wishes about medical care at the end of life.
    • The issues may be presented by your health care professional. If not, ask about them.
    • These issues include use of aggressive interventions and hospital care, artificial feeding, and medical treatment for medical illnesses.
    • These issues should be discussed by family members and decisions made about how to deal with them when the time comes.
    • The decisions should be documented in the person’s medical records.

    Recommended Reading: Does Alzheimer’s Run In Families


    Most Popular