Alzheimers and Paranoia
Handling Behavioral Changes with Dementia: Paranoia
When an individual is suffering from dementia, they often deal with delusions and hallucinations which can manifest in very paranoid behavior. It is not uncommon for an individual with dementia to become paranoid and to think that there is someone out to get them that their spouse is cheating on them or that someone is stealing from them. This paranoid behavior can be both heartbreaking and difficult to deal with. However, it is a common part of the illness and something that you will need to handle as a caregiver. Here are a few tips for properly dealing with paranoid behavior.
- Start by remembering that this paranoid behavior is part of the illness and this is not the individual acting out or trying to hurt you. Make sure you keep this in mind and explain to any other caregivers or family members that this paranoid behavior and any accusations they may make are part of the illness. - Always speak in a calm and gentle voice as many times this can be just what the individual needs. Many times the paranoia stems from fear or from the individual believing they are not safe. By calming them down and assuring their safety and your intention to keep them safe, they may stop resorting to their paranoid behavior. - Instead of getting angry at the individual when they suspect that something has been stolen or missing, allow them to inspect the situation for themselves and help them instead of dismissing their beliefs or getting angry. - Always validate their feelings to make them feel as though you understand their frustrations. Many times the situation will only get worse if the individual with dementia does not feel like you understand what they are going through. Let them know that you understand their feelings and encourage open communication about the real reason behind their accusations. - Pay a visit to the doctor. If paranoid behavior is particularly disruptive to your loved ones life, then there may be some behavioral intervention or medication that they can prescribe. Many times this will help when an individuals paranoid behavior is so out of control that it results in injury to the person or their caregivers. A medical professional may also be able to provide you with additional techniques in handling their behavior.