Concerning Changes in an Elderly Parent
anonymous Asks ...
My dad is retired and he drinks too much. He lives alone and over the past year I have noticed that he is getting more and more paranoid about everything around him. He used to have a lot of friends and be friendly with his neighbors but now he thinks they all hate him. His neighbor on one side mentioned that he’d like to buy the house if my dad ever wanted to sell and now my dad is convinced they are trying to force him out and that other people the neighborhood are ‘in on it’ and he has a lot of crazy explanations and reasons for his thinking. Other than this paranoia he is in good health and gets along OK. How worried do I need to be about his new conspiracy mindset and what could this mean that it is happening all of a sudden? The problem is, my dad doesn’t see anything wrong with the way he is thinking.
Rev. Christopher Smith Says ...
It can be hard to watch an elderly parent show distressing signs. Even if the parent is aware of what is going on, it can also be difficult for them to admit to the new problems they are having. This is the case whether the distressing signs are physical (such as the ability of the joints to work as they once did), emotional (stemming from increasing exposure to grief and loss), spiritual (anger at God for having to go through problems of aging), cognitive (as in the described paranoia) or some other dimension of their life.
When a loved one sees a problem in an elderly parent, the likelhood is that they are nor seeing the beginning of the problem. There probaly have been smaller things going on. In fact you speak at the beginning of "more and more paranoid" and then at the end of "happening all of a sudden". We don't want to see some things that are going on so we don't se them until they pass a threshhold that we can no longer ignore. The smae thing is also happening for your elderly parent - they are not wanting to see the problems either. Thus, when you raise the issue, they deny the problem.
Paranoia in an elderly parent, if there has not been any other history and if there is not another illness going on could have a number of triggers for it. There are some medications that could cause this as a side effect, however, the most common cause is dementia. You should think about whether there have been any signs of problems with your parent's memory and even if not, you might want to see about having dementia explored by your parent's physician. The easiest way to do this in today's world governed by privacy regulations is for someone to go with your parent to the next doctor's appointment. It is certainly worth involving your parent's physician in trying to work out waht is going on. This would be your best option to getting you and your parent on a path to peace and wholeness.