How do I cope with my dad’s paranoia?

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My dad is 91 years old. His new docotr doesn't beleive that he has dementia but says that thyroid disease could be causing his delusional disorder. We lost my mom a little over a year ago and, although my dad has always been a little paranoid, recently he beleives close friends want to harm him and he says a van has been following him. Last night he left the house in his pajamas and locked himself out. He said he was trying to get a number to car service just in case he needed it. Good thing a neighbor called to let me know. He has bee on thryoid med for a week but i seeno change in his behavior. Other that the paranoia, he shows no other signs of dementia. How do I handle this? Thanks.

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Yes, please have him evaluated. Many mental illnesses can cause paranoid- even some forms of depression. You're mom's death may have kicked something into overdrive. As mentioned, a UTI or other infection can cause strange behavior, too. At any rate, he needs to see a doctor for a good checkup. You can write the doctor ahead of time to alert him or her of the paranoia.
Good luck,
Carol
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You absolutely must have your father evaluated and by preferably by a neurologist. You will most likely need to have a referral from his Primary Care Physician. Contact the PCP and explain that you are not seeing any change in behavior since he is on the thyroid medication, and that you want to have a complete eval from a neurologist. Tell the PCP that you are concerned about your father's safety and you don't want to wait. When was the last time he had a complete medical evaluation?
True paranoia is a serious condition and until you know exactly what you are dealing with, it's going to be very difficult to help him through a paranoid episode or know what to do to help him. You should not wait on this. Dementia presents itself in many different ways. In the interim, you can do take some home safety precautions to make sure that he doesn't get locked out of the house or that he doesn't go wandering. If possible, try to stay calm and be very reassuring to him. Don't argue with him that no one is trying to hurt him. You will only get frustrated and he won't understand. You must stay very, very calm. Make an appointment with a neurologist as soon as possible. Stay focused on your desired outcome. This helps dissipate the emotional component of this. You are his advocate and therefore you must be very proactive to receive the correct diagnosis from a medical professional. I wish you the best of luck in your search for the answer.
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Mom suffered from Alzheimer's the last 15 years of her life. She was always a little paranoid, but as her disease progressed, her paranoia got worse. She thought her faithful husband of over 60 years was stepping out on her and was constantly accusing him of one indiscretion or another. She would wake me up in the middle of the night to discuss his philandering and then turn on me when I didn't agree with her suspicions. Her wonderful neurologist knew what to do. He prescribed Zoloft for her anxieties and Risperdal for her dilusions. He and her PCP carefully monitored all her medications and dosages so there was no negative interaction and so that she wasn't "drugged out" all the time. I'm don't believe in over-medication, but in Mom's case, medications were the answer to helping her live out her last few years in a state of relative contentment.
Blessings,
Linda
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He may not be suffering from dementia but may have another mental disorder. You really need to have him evaluated by a mental health professional...most doctors do not have the background to evaluate either.
Did your Dad's doctor test him for a unrinary infection? These can cause similar behavoirs? Also, is he on any other medications? Bad drug interactions can do this as well.
The main thing to consider is if these symptoms have been occuring over time or if they have come on suddenly.
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Another tough one. We finally got help for my father. They put him on a medication, it supposedly has a lot of side effects, but at least he is not worried that everyone is out to get him anymore. The medicine is Zyprexa. I've heard a lot of controversy about it, but for the moment we'll let it be. We're not going to cure him of old age and dementia, I just hope we can help him through the journey, all of us through this journey.
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My dad is convinced that a "death panel" will say he is not worthy of living. (He has congestive heart failure, mild MD and other health issues.) He said he's "afraid the death panel will give his coverage to someone else younger." He said he heard it on a commercial with Pat Boone, and that "Pat Boone wouldn't lie to us." I believe he's had OCD for years--he checks and re-checks locks to the point of being late to events. Does this sound like the beginnings of paranoia and dementia? He forgets some minor things, but the paranoia strikes me as more significant. He also washes his hands literally each time he touches something, to the point that the skin is raw, chapped and bleeding. What should I do? What can I do?
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I think that Carol and Cindy's answers from last year apply here, too. It sounds like some delusions as well as paranoia. I hope you can get him evaluated by a specialist.
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