It’s not uncommon for elderly people to exhibit signs of dementia in their later years. Dementia changes the way the brain works, often causing people to lose their memories and fail to process what they see around them. Dealing with the world when their mental capacity is reduced can cause some seniors to develop paranoia. They may believe the police are after them or that the elder care assistant isn’t who they claim to be. Some seniors may even try to harm themselves or others in their paranoid state.
It’s important that everyone who works with the elderly person—family members, elder care assistants and others—learn strategies and techniques to deal with volatile moods and reduce the feelings of paranoia whenever they can.
Here are 25 tips on how to deal with an elderly relative’s dementia-related paranoia:
- Remain calm and use a soothing tone of voice.
- Communicate nonverbally, such as with a gentle touch, pat on the arm or a hug.
- Avoid arguing or pointing out the flaws in their opinions.
- Don’t take anything they say or accuse someone of personally.
- Acknowledge the elderly person’s anger and frustration, and express understanding.
- Sincerely listen to them and just validate their feelings, not the accusations.
- Show empathy for their problem and suggest simple solutions or alternatives.
- Steer them toward soothing music, a walk or a ride in the car to calm them down.
- Keep dangerous items out of reach if they are acting aggressively.
- Turn down any noise from the TV, radio or other source.
- Clear the room of people if they feel scared, agitated or afraid.
- Redirect their attention with a snack or activity when they can’t forget about something.
- Surround their living space with familiar objects, furniture and art.
- Avoid moving furniture and household objects around frequently because familiarity helps them feel more in control.
- Keep a predictable schedule with as much of the same routines as possible.
- Give them some space to reset their mood.
- If looking for a lost object, try distracting them into another activity, like straightening a linen closet or bathroom drawer.
- See if they will respond to a little light humor, but never laugh at them or their feelings.
- Never mock them or belittle their paranoid delusions because they are very real to them.
- Limit smoking, drinking, caffeine and junk food to reduce physical triggers.
- Make sure they are getting enough sleep at night.
- Give them plenty of opportunities for independent activities and self-care if possible to reduce the feelings of dependency.
- Make sure they eat right and engage in some form of physical activity daily.
- Reassure them that they are being taken care of and that they are safe and loved.
- Explain to other family members and elder care assistants that paranoid accusations are always possible and never to take anything personally.
When you are in need of care for a senior loved one, consider caregivers provided by Golden Heart Senior Care. We have offices nationwide. For more information, call us today at (800) 601-2792.