Why Is My Elderly Loved One Paranoid? – Stacys Helping Hand

Author: Stacy's Helping Hand |


Your loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia might become suspicious of the people around them. Changes can be stressful for anyone, but they are especially difficult for a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia can increase feelings of fear and fatigue from trying to make sense out of an increasingly confusing world. The good news is that if you are dealing with paranoid behaviors, there are things you can do to minimize the outburst and reduce their chances of recurring. Below, our team at Stacys Helping Hand, Inc shares steps you can take and tips to help your loved one.

In the Moment

Suspicions can come out as hurtful accusations of theft, infidelity or other bad behavior. When these situations occur, the key is to stay patient. With patience, you can take the following steps to alleviate the tension of the moment:

  • Don’t take offense
  • Keep your demeanor and voice calm
  • Use words and nonverbal cues like hugs to reassure
  • Acknowledge the feeling behind the accusation
  • Keep answers simple
  • Don’t argue or try to convince
  • Switch the focus to something else

Understanding the Triggers

Try to understand the reasons behind each behavior. Identifying what has triggered a behavior can often help in selecting the best approach to dealing with it. Some triggers might be necessary even if they cause temporary turmoil, such as:

  • Moving to a new residence or nursing home
  • Changes in a familiar environment or caregiver arrangements
  • Admission to a hospital
  • Being asked to bathe or change clothes
  • Medications

You can’t control everything in your loved one’s environment, especially during times of transition. But, try to reduce these triggers as much as possible:

  • Create a calm environment. Avoid noise, glare, insecure space and too much background distraction, including television. Maintain a comfortable room temperature. Get replacements of commonly lost items. Let them keep a small amount of cash.
  • Monitor their health and and everyday comfort levels. Check for pain, hunger, thirst, constipation, full bladder, fatigue, infections and skin irritation. Allow adequate rest between stimulating events. Provide a security object. Limit caffeine, sugar and junk food. Maintain as much structure as possible.

Talk to Others

Consult a physician to identify any causes related to medications or illness like the below:

  • Drug side effects: Prescription medications might have side effects or interactions and can affect behavior.
  • Discomfort from infections or other conditions: Those with Alzheimer’s can have increasing difficulty communicating with others about their experience. This can make explaining symptoms difficult. Unspoken pain from infections of the urinary tract, ear or sinuses may lead to restlessness or agitation.
  • Uncorrected problems with hearing or vision: The inability to adequately hear or see can contribute to confusion and frustration and create a sense of isolation.

Let other family members know, so they also know what to do and can help. Also, maybe neighbors, or close friends and/or family members of their friends can help.

Mostly, we just want you to know you are not alone and you shouldn’t feel like you have to handle this all on your own. Our team for Senior Care Facilities can help you through this trying time.