In This Episode:
Dr. K responds to a reader’s question on assessing the safety of an older parent who has become paranoid and has started behaving differently. She covers:
- Why delusions, hallucinations, and paranoid behavior are so common in older adults
- The six “Ds” that cause paranoia and other forms of late-life psychosis
- Why a medical evaluation to identify the causes of psychosis is so important
- How to check on “levels of decline” and safety, using the Checking Older Parents Quick Start Guide
- How to tell your parent’s doctor about the problems, even if your parent doesn’t want you to be involved
- The best sources of useful advice and information, if you are concerned about a parent with signs of late-life psychosis
- Tips on discussing these issues with a resistant parent
6 Causes of Paranoia in Aging & What to Do
- Late-Life Psychosis: Diagnosis and Treatment
- 10 Things to Know About Delirium
- 4 Types of Brain-Slowing Medication to Avoid if You’re Worried About Memory
- Checking Older Parents Quick Start Guide
- Health Information Privacy (HIPAA)
- Caregiving forum at AgingCare.com
- Circles at Daughterhood.org
- 4 Things to Do When Your Parents Are Resisting Help
Please post any follow-up questions below! If there are enough questions, Dr. K will address them in a follow-up episode.
Thankyou Dr Kernisan,
I found your podcast extremely helpful and informative. I will be subscribing.
As I live in Australia, I was wondering if you could recommend the best Australian websites or sources, that might provide similar information to yours?
Nicole Didyk, MD says
I’m so glad to hear that you’re a subscriber! Welcome!
I’m a Canadian Geriatrician myself, and you’re correct that there are many resources that are geographically specific.
Taking a quick look, this site seems to have some helpful resources – the Australian Healthy Ageing Organisation. If I find other helpful links, I will post them in this comment section.
Otherwise, maybe we need to recruit an Australian Geriatrician to our team!
My 86 year old mom thinks family members are bugging her phone to listen to her conversations and also calling at all times of the night. She has accused my partner and children as well as my brother’s family. She recently accused me of knowing who is doing it. She has changed her phone number numerous times and only a few people have her phone number. She has always been paranoid but this has become her obsession. She lives independently since my dad died. She does not understand how a cell phone works and is suspicious of random or wrong number dials or of spam calls and thinks someone in my family is trying to harass her. She recently targeted a distant relative who came to my house for a visit. She appears rational most of the time but will not accept any reasonable explanations about anything. My frustration level is through the roof but I feel horrible because I know her paranoia is tormenting her. She refuses to see a doctor and believes my siblings and I are trying to have her committed, which we are not. I am so beaten down by this situation that I avoid conversations and our relationship is suffering. I want to help her but the there is little left to discuss and we rarely enjoy each other. It’s heartbreaking to see her like this and each time I think we’re past it she comes up with another accusation. She refuses to socialize with others.. She spends nearly all of her time alone and lets bygones fester and seems angry all the time. I feel like I’ve tried all of the suggestions and in fact when we approached her doctor the results were disastrous. It took a long time to mend the relationship.
Leslie Kernisan, MD MPH says
So sorry to hear of your situation, it sounds very difficult and indeed very stressful.
Well, what you are describing does not sound normal and should be medically evaluated, but of course it’s often extremely hard to get a very paranoid person evaluated. Some situations have no easy answer. And often it requires a combination of trying and waiting until finally some kind of crisis or turning point occurs, and then it’s possible to help the person. This can be very stressful for family.
Since helping aging parents is often so challenging, we are launching a special membership community. You can learn more here.