Addressing Delusions & Paranoia
Persons with Alzheimer’s may experience delusions (beliefs not grounded in reality) and paranoia as a result of the disease. Common delusions include the belief that a spouse is being unfaithful or a caregiver is stealing. While these beliefs are contrary to reality they are very real to the individual with Alzheimer’s disease. When addressing these delusions it is important to remember that the accusations are not personal but a result of the disease.
How To Address Delusions
If the senior is experiencing delusions of self-harm or which produce negative emotions a trip to the doctor may be required. A physician can determine whether anti-psychotic medications will be effective and prescribe medication accordingly. While non-drug approaches are always preferred, severe delusions of harm or which produce strong negative emotions may require pharmaceutical intervention.
Non-drug approaches to addressing delusions in dementia care involve common strategies. Once again, reassurance is key to addressing troubling delusions. Listen to the senior to understand their perception of reality and offer words of comfort, safety, and reassurance. Keep your communication short and to the point. Reorientation (correcting their perception and reorienting them to reality) should be avoided as doing so will only exacerbate confusion. If the senior experiences delusions relating to lost items consider purchasing those items and offer them when necessary. For instance, if a senior believes that a caregiver is stealing his or her purse, but several and provide one as the found item. Lastly, activities and short walks can provide welcome distractions for seniors with delusions.