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CARENOTES | Past Carenotes | Let's Talk


Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 3/25/14


My 90-year-old mother recently started to display paranoia. She has accused her caregivers of putting salt in her bath water and drinking water. She said they were pouring water in her shoes, so she hid four pairs. She said they were throwing itching dust on her and her clothes. Now she's refusing to sleep in her bed or her recliner because she says that she gets shocked. She sits in her wheelchair all day and sleeps in it at night. The doctor has checked her meds and does not feel that she is facing dementia. How should I address her accusations? She begs me to believe her, but what she fears is not happening.


Caregivers Reply

Shared by: Joyce
New Jersey Pinelands

You may need to press your concerns further with your mom's physician or consider a Geri psychiatrist. Too often these days physicians don't take into consideration the total picture of a patient that is being presented to them. My 96 year old mom cries much more than she did. When I recently mentioned to her long term primary care physician that I thought she nay be depressed, his answer was to pat her on the arm and tell her " just take one day at a time". And that was after she broke into unprovoked tears in front of him. my advice to you is that you know when something seems our of the ordinary. If your mom's meds are not causing this change, her doctor needs to help you figure out what it is. Could she have had a mini stroke?

Shared by: Debbi

I would have your mother looked at by another doctor. She is definitely displaying signs of dementia. My husband has it and it was just like your mother before he was prescribed an antipsychotic medication. He is also on two Alzheimer medications (Namenda and Exelon patches). They have helped immensely to allay the fears he was feeling and, for the most part, stopped the accusations. Life with dementia is not easy and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Please have your mother checked by another doctor. Her current doctor doesn't seem to understand how bad it really is.

Shared by: Misty
Fort Wayne, IN

Gosh this is a particularly difficult situation you are facing. I would recommend researching information on the later stages of certain types of dementia. This is a characteristic of certain forms of this disease. I would say do your best to not argue or disagree with her, because in her mind her complaints are her reailty! You or I would know theres not been salt put in her food or water in her shoes, but she holds the firm belief that this is a FACT! You may approach it from the stand point of agreeing with her, then simply asking her what she would like to do to resolve it... for her it may be particurlarly important to actually see for herself you taking some action to resolve her belief, if she feels her shoes are wet and wants them dried, stick them into the dryer for a few minutes. I am not sure if I was able to help at all, but I will say this your job as a caregiver is one of the most under recognized in our nation and I applaud you for your efforts during this difficult time. Keep the great work up!

Shared by: Julie

What you are experiencing is very similar to what my uncle started early last year. He was 91 at the time and is in a nursing home close to me. For several months he was more paranoid than usual and started having hallucinations and accusing different staff and visitors of various things. One day he went so far as calling 911 with one of these stories. The doctor put my uncle on Cymbalta and after a month or less, the delusions stopped, plus he improved with his sleeping patterns. It does sound like she is suffering from dementia. They cannot be reasoned with, all you can do it try to comfort her. Wish you both the best. My heart goes out to you because I've been on this road a while with my aunt until she passed, now her husband. Plus my parents live with me aging and suffering from chronic health issues. My father is 78 and already showing signs of memory loss and cognitive functions.

Shared by: Linda Brendle
Emory, Texas

MB, my mother also developed paranoia as she aged. She thought Dad was getting phone calls from old girlfriends and sneaking out to meet them at night. She thought phone calls from telephone solicitors were stalkers out to get her. When I told her neurologist about her delusions, he added a very small dose of Risperdol to her medications, and it helped. I know we don't want to over-medicate our loved ones, but sometimes a little bit of something to take the edge off can make all the difference.
Blessings, Linda

Shared by: Kathy

To her they are real and each of them needs to be acknowledged and addressed. Most likely multiple times. I have found it less exhausting for both of us if handled that way. Get bottled water and have her watch when each bottle is opened. Her skin could be dry, which would result in itchy skin. Ditto to the shocking she is experiencing...that could be from dry air. Be in her reality instead of forcing her back into your's. Both of you will be less stressed. Good luck..

Shared by: KK

How difficult for both of you! I would want my Mom to be evaluated by a geriatrician (MD who specializes in eldercare) and/or neurologist as soon as possible.

Shared by: Lisa

When my mom experienced similar issues, I found out that the quality of her sleep had declined to such an extent that she'd essentially become sleep deprived, and it affected her cognitive function. Once that was resolved, things began to improve. If your mom's current doctor did not offer an explanation for the change you describe, you may want to consider finding another doctor from which you can get a second opinion. I wish you good luck and the strength to keep searching for the answers you need.

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