Aside from confusion and memory loss, which are common hallmarks associated with Alzheimer’s disease, paranoia is systematic of the illness as well. Not only does this condition rear its ugly head with Alzheimer’s, but it also affects people with other mental illnesses. Caring for a loved one who is paranoid can be a trying task.
Radical Changes in Personality
Do you know the signs of paranoia? Being aware of these disturbing signs and reacting correctly can be a caregiver’s only defense from a loved one’s state of mind. Here are some signs of paranoia:
- Isolation – people who are paranoid often times do not want to be around other people. It could be they fear someone is out to get them.Suspicion – they believe people are talking about them or plotting against them. Perhaps even trying to kill them. Even a kind act is considered to have a hidden motive.
- Inability to relax – this can cause aggressive behavior because they don’t trust others easily. They might think bad things will always happen to them, and they may have a poor self-image.
- Delusional – a person with paranoia may have feelings of grandeur and believe they have great worth and knowledge. Also, they may believe to be associated with a higher power.
Stay Proactive With Your Reactions
Here’s how if you see such behaviors or thoughts:
- DO NOT ever tell the person he or she is acting paranoid. This will agitate them even more.
- Try relaxing them. Show signs of sympathy. Ask your loved one to explain why they feel that way.
- If they believe something has been stolen from them, help them look for it.
- Try to change the subject if they believe you’re trying to harm them. If you defend yourself, they will most likely think you are guilty.
- If you have visitors to your home, speak to them about your loved one’s condition. Warn the visitor not to overreact to false claims against them.
- Attempt to avoid crowds because a person who is paranoid can become very unsettled. The calmer the environment, the better.
- If you truly believe they suffer from paranoia, speak to their doctor. There are medications that may be able to help control the erratic thoughts and behaviors.
Lois Young-Tulin, PhD, is an Assistant Geriatric Care Manager at Complete Care Strategies