Education and Care - Coping with Paranoia

Alzheimer's Foundation of America

Individuals with dementia may become paranoid as a result of false beliefs, or delusions, which are a symptom of the disease. Examples of paranoia are accusations that someone is poisoning their food or stealing their money, or statements such as, "My spouse is an imposter."

Possible problems:
  • Discuss paranoid behaviors with the individual's doctor. Medications may need to be adjusted.
  • Explain to other family members and caregivers that suspicious accusations are a part of the illness.
  • Respond to the feeling behind the accusation. If the accusation involves hurting someone who has passed away, you might suggest, "You really miss your mother; tell me about her."
  • Try non-verbal reassurances like a gentle touch or hug.
  • If the individual suspects money is "missing," allow them to keep small amounts of money in a pocket or pocketbook for easy inspection.
  • Assist the person in looking for a missing object. Try to learn where their favorite hiding places are for storing objects that are frequently "lost."
  • Avoid arguing.

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