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Dealing with Alzheimer's and Paranoia

Jul 16, 2008
The paranoia and suspicion of a person with Alzheimer's can be one of the most difficult behaviors for their caregiver to handle. As the Alzheimer's develops and targets your loved ones memory, they'll gradually become more confused and perceive things they would have once though normal, in new ways.

This is not only due to their inability to remember certain people, but also places and things, and the fact that they can't remember themselves as well.

People with Alzheimer's will often confront their loved ones, accusing them of theft, improper behavior or even infidelity. Many times they're getting their feelings from ones they've had in the past from different people or different times.

It's also possible that they're misinterpreting what he or she is hearing or seeing. Because Alzheimer's patients confuse times, events and people, they may associate an event with the wrong person. For instance, if their ex-husband or wife once cheated on them, they may accuse their new spouse of doing the same.

It's easy to become offended by your loved one's paranoia or suspicious. But don't take it personally. Try to listen carefully to what they are saying, and put your self in their shoes: They don't mean any of this, but they certainly feel it and believe it to be true.

Don't argue or try to convince them that they're wrong, just let them know that you care about what they're feeling and are very sorry that they're feeling that way. Let your loved one express their ideas and acknowledge their opinions before offering a simple answer. Keep your response short and easy to understand.

You an take their mind off their suspicions by suggesting a different activity that focuses on keeping them occupied. You might even think about buying them two of each item that they often lose, such as a handbag or wallet. This will help keep them from being suspicious that you stole it.

So, try and stay calm, remain understanding and have compassion. Your loved one will feel your energy and feed off of it.
About the Author
For a FREE E-Book and On-Going Tips Dealing With Alzheimer's in Austin, make sure you visit the Alzheimer's Legal Resource Center.
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