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Caring for the elderly can be a sensitive subject for most people. Most believe having an aging parent to care for is a blessing, however, it can be a bittersweet blessing.

There are certain related diseases associated with aging such as Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and even psychosis that require the assistance of professionals. We don’t like to think of our parents in a nursing facility where strangers are in charge of their livelihoods, but sometimes, it’s necessary. Unfortunately, for many people, a nursing home is not an option.

If you’re the only one that has a relationship with the housebound parent, it can be mentally and physically exhausting. Not only that but, caring for the elderly parent often means there are limited resources in which to help.

The effects of paranoid delusions in the elderly can be overwhelming if the parent is suffering from debilitating illnesses as well, especially if you don’t have the tools. Sadly, it’s not all peaches and cream for a lot of us. To cope, we need to understand the illnesses.

What Causes Psychosis?

There are different reasons why anyone suffers from psychosis. It usually happens at an early age, but it could happen to anyone and at any time.

Situations like insomnia and drug use could set off a psychotic episode. On the other hand, it could be an illness, such as Parkinson’s diseases or Huntington’s disease that triggers psychosis. Additionally, strokes, brain tumors and cysts could contribute to psychosis.

What are the Warning Signs?

Caring for the elderly is difficult but going through it alone can be extra tough. Psychosis is a very serious ordeal and help is needed for both of you. In light of this, it’s important you understand the difference between dementia and psychosis.

Common warning signs are easy to spot, some are easy to miss. The signs can be confusing as they are compatible with other illnesses or the side effects of some medicines. They include:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • suspicion
  • change in appetite
  • hyperactivity
  • loss of energy
  • irritability
  • fearfulness
  • change in sleeping patterns
  • poor hygiene

Get to know the schizophrenic episode triggers so you’ll know what to look for. The most commonly known psychotic disorder is Bipolar Disorder. These individuals suffer from extreme moods swings and may have a sudden onset of paranoid delusions.

Caring for the Elderly with Psychotic Disorders

The person who suffers from delusional disorder is convinced they are seeing things that are real. Going through a psychotic depression means major depression has set in. Schizophrenia is not a temporary symptom or disorder… it’s forever.

What do you do when you have exhausted every means and every measure of patience and energy and at last, you have pulled in your last favor? What do you do? You’re just not sure how much longer you can do this.

What Do You Do?

Don’t be afraid to say, “My mom is paranoid what do I do?” What to do in the case that your parent is delusional or displaying psychotic behavior? People with psychosis see and hear things that are not there. Believe it or not, those are the positive signs.

Photo by Eddy Klaus Man in striped apron paints canvases in Bardolino
One day, something sets off a psychotic episode and your parent is confused. It can happen at any time and it can be scary.

When they lose all motivation, those are considered to be negative symptoms. Reports show that every third person suffers with or will suffer from some form of psychosis. Having hallucinations and delusions can be scary to you and to the one having them.

Delusions vs Hallucinations

A delusion is when someone believes what is not true and exact. They may confuse reality with a false impression. Some people suffer the most with dementia and hallucinations at night. There are three forms of delusion: paranoia, grandiose delusions, and somatic delusions.

It’s not uncommon to find someone going through delusions of paranoia. They tend to think that people are out to get them.

A grandiose delusion is where they think they are more important than they really are.
Somatic delusions give you the idea that you have a fatal disease when there is absolutely nothing wrong with you.

Read more: Hallucinations, Delusions and Paranoia Related to Dementia

Tips on Caring for the Elderly

According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, the person going through psychosis or delusions is likely afraid of what’s happening to them. Here’s how to help them:

  • Try to be understanding of their needs and situation. It’s not who they really are. 
  • Avoid arguments, especially long ones. They often aggravate the individual and could push them away from you. Try to find common ground or a happy place for the sufferer and talk about the good times.
  • When the elderly see things that aren’t there, don’t disagree with them. Instead, try to distract them. Don’t try to rationalize with them. After an episode, your parent could act like a child or become disoriented. In light of this, decisions can be extremely difficult for them.
  • If you make a promise, keep your word. 

Help with Dementia with Psychosis

Often times, there is only one person who can take responsibility with little possibility of relief, other than by another family member, friend, privately paid sitter, CNA, or nurse. These services are available however, they are provided for by the state.

Most states have a waiting list to receive in-home care, while daycare for the parent is also an option. Again, there is an extremely long wait to get on these programs and the policy and length will vary from state to state.

What do you do when your parent doesn’t even know you are alive? You cope and you join support groups. You research the disorder and you apply what you have learned. Mainly, you do what is right for you and for your family.

Caring for the Elderly with Psychosis

Truth be told, there’s only so much you can do alone when caring for the elderly parent. When it’s too much to bear, it may be time to attempt something different. When you and your parent have more bad days, than good days, it’s time to seek other measures.

When you can’t provide quality care for your loved one, it’s time to seek other means. In my opinion, when it comes down to doing what’s best for the parties concerned, the decision is a personal one.

No one should judge you, especially if they are not contributing to the parent’s welfare. We are so quick to say what we would do, but in reality, you just don’t know until you walk in those shoes.

If you are having to make this decision, best of luck to you. My heart goes out to you.

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Mikki Donaldson is a southern girl, born in “hard time Mississippi.” She, like her town, has seen many hurricanes, but bounce back each time. Mikki is no different from any other person with a passion, late to bed and early to rise. The writer adores her family and seeks to leave her mark on this remarkable world.