What can I do with increased paranoia in my dad?

Follow
Share

My dad retired recently and he is in his early 70's. I do not know if it is because he has more free time or because he has a condition, but his paranoia is getting worse. He spends a lot of time every day reading conspiracy theories. He is very intelligent, yet it seems the more outrageous the conspiracy theory he finds the more likely he is to believe it, without even double checking the facts.
What scares me is that he has a collection of (legal) rifles, but now he wants to keep them around the house (with ammo) rather than in a cabinet like he used to. The conspiracy theories seem to have him convinced that at some point our house will be raided and he needs to be ready to defend himself. His eyesight and hearing are getting worse; I'm worried that he might not recognize one of us at some point and make a fatal mistake. And besides that, we have family that visits with young children, I'm afraid of them coming across the firearms.
He has always had OCPD but it is getting worse. He never handled the money (that has always been my mom's job) and he has always been irresponsible with it, but he is taking it to new heights, blowing hundreds and hundreds of dollars at a time without even seeing if there is enough to pay the bills. His memory for names has never been good either, and it is only getting worse.
I'm not sure if this is Alzheimer's or just his personality getting more severe as he gets older. I'm really stressed out and I really could use some suggestions.
Sorry if this isn't the right area to post but I didn't know here else to.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Find Care & Housing
13

Answers

Show:
I have to say thanks for all the responses. It is a lot of information to consider and I'm glad there are others out there who understand the concerns I have
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Sounds like a scary & difficult situation. Ok I will throw in my 2 cents as a geriatrician.

First, if you can afford it, I'd recommend you find a good geriatric care manager or social worker -- preferably one experienced with dementia because this may be early dementia -- to help you figure out some practical approaches to negotiating re the gun safety, getting evaluated at the doctor, managing your own stress, etc.

As a doctor, I have to say that paranoia is often the first problem that families bring up, in cases that later turn out to become dementia. That's not to say that all paranoia is dementia, just that it's a common way for the mental slippage to become apparent.

Getting evaluated for dementia and mental illness will help you understand the underlying problems, but still leaves you with lots of practical issues to wrangle :(

Re whether it's dementia, the Alz Association has a good resource "know the 10 signs" which explains usual aging vs more worrisome signs.

You can also google AD8 Informant Interview or AD8 dementia screening interview (there's a copy of this on Alz.org too); it's a list of 8 questions that families can answer regarding memory/thinking skills. If you do it before going to see the doctor, you'll be bringing very useful information that can complement some kind of office-based memory testing...plus it can help you keep track of how he's doing over the next few months.
Good luck!
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

You may not get far asking him to get rid of guns, but you cannot have children in the house with guns lying around. Tell him the bad guys may be thinking about coming to get him, but that you will shoot him dead FOR SURE if he endangers children.

Like putting your baby in a car seat, this has to be nonnegotiable. The possibility of a dead grandchild is real, and it's unfortunately not that rare. When - before! - kids come in the door, the guns are to be locked up. End of conversation.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

How does your Mom react to these changes? Is she still competent? As she has always handled the money she may be able to put her foot down. What is he blowing money on? You obviously need a professional evaluation to gauge his mental health. Are you living with your parents or is it your house. if you own the house you can certainly put your foot down and insist the firearms are safely locked up especially when relatives visit. At the very least they should have gun locks and the barrels and ammunition stored in separate places. As noted above many people are concerned about current events and you may label them as either paranoid or realistic. Have you watched Doomsday Preppers? I would like to clear up the difference between Bipolar disorder and Schizophrenia. They are both well recognized mental disorders but have very different effects on the suffers.
Bipolar (also known as manic depressive) is well understood and very treatable allowing the sufferer to function well in society with the help of medications. It is very common. Patients alternate between moderate to severe depression and mania when they are extremely high energy.
Schizophrenia is more difficult to treat especially as many patients are non compliant, resist treatment and generally function poorly in society. The have hallucinations and delusions often hearing voices in their heads that tell them to do antisocial things, as in the Newtown massacre.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

One of the best things my mom taught be (before ALZ) was:
Trust your judgement
You wouldn't be asking about this if you didn't already know something is wrong.Listen to that voice in your head that is worrying you. I think professional help is needed in this situation. Thank goodness your parents have you to help care for them. Please also take care of yourself!
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I agree with dcoach too. And by the way, just not being able to remember someone's name is not Alzheimer's - just a part of getting older. With Alzheimer's they don't recognize who someone is that is very familiar to them - family members, etc.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

If he is legally competent then you cannot simply tell him what to do, remove the ammunition, take over his finances, etc. There are many people who believe the government is not to be trusted, are concerned about being spied upon and who have firearms. That does not make them incompetent. Considering the recent disclosures about the NSA and other agencies, some might even think it is reasonable. You say that he has struggled with a mental illness throughout his life. Getting him to the appropriate medical professionals may be your best option.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

As a nurse, I often see Alzheimer's resulting in deep paranoia. Not sure if that's your dad's case as that usually happens after the Alzheimer's is severe enough that they don't recognize people they know any more. My brother became very paranoid like that the last 5-10 years he lived - thought people were tapping his phone, etc. They blamed it on exposure to Agent Orange when he was in the service. Don't know if that was ever (or could be) confirmed. Another possibility is schizophrenia (now called Bipolar). You are quite right to be concerned about the guns in the home. We knew a fellow who shot his dad with a bow and arrow, thinking he was an invader, during a period when he wasn't taking his medication. Bipolar can be pretty well controlled if the patients keep taking their meds. Trying to take away his guns and control of his money, though, probably will feed his paranoia, thinking everyone is out to get him, and cause a big fight. I agree that the first thing would be to talk him into seeing a neurologist, in any way that you can, to try to determine the cause as there are so many different things that could cause it. And make sure you go with him to the appointment!
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

re getting someone's name off of a bank account. I tried to do that recently and bank said unless there is a death or divorce they cannot do it. I had to close an account and reopen it in just my name
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

First remove all ammo from the house and then rifles. Next, get him to a neurologist to diagnose him for dementia or at least whatever shows up on an MRI, CT or EEG. This is abnormal behavior and needs immediate attention. Get a POA, go to the bank, take his name off the account or close it, and start handling money for him or else he will spend all of it. Reasoning is really bizarre when it comes to the frontal lobe of the brain being affected by a dementia. He is not to be trusted and should not be left alone. Get help ASAP!
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Related
Questions