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Recognition of psychotic symptoms of dementia

As many as 50 million people with dementia also suffer from mental illness. You may hear doctors use the term “mental illness episode”. It’s when people have a hard time deciding what is true and what isn’t.

You can include the following:

  • False belief that caregivers are trying to harm them
  • Claim to see someone in your room, like a deceased brother or friend, or a celebrity who isn’t there

Often, experts say that signs of dementia-related psychosis are undetected and untreated for too long. It can have a significant impact on both the health of people with dementia and the well-being of their families and other caregivers.

“If someone has dementia, the doctor or family may not take some things seriously. [person is] That said, they don’t realize it’s false distrust or hallucinations, they just think it’s a cognitive problem, “said Dr. Gary Small, MD, director of the UCLA Longevity Center. Says.

“People tend to think that dementia is just dementia, but it is clear that it affects behavior and all aspects of patient and family life.”

Know your requirements

Psychosis is a broad term. The definition contains two main terms.

  • Hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that others do not see)
  • Delusion (wrong belief)

The psychotic part of dementia-related psychosis can be difficult to grasp.

“Oh, my goodness, it’s not very well understood,” says Zahinor Ismail, a senior researcher at the Ron Andorne Ward Health and Brain Aging Research Center at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine. “People have all sorts of preconceptions about what these terms mean. They use them interchangeably.

“There is a stigma around them because they are associated with schizophrenia and major mental health problems that occurred early in life. It is often an area that really needs explanation: the definition is What? What do we mean? “

What to watch out for

If a person with dementia says that his deceased spouse has visited or that people in a nursing home are colluding to poison food, it is a sign that something is happening and that person’s It’s clear that the care team needs to know. It. However, people with symptoms of mental illness may not know much about that information. Even the caregiver may keep such a thing for himself.


“I talk to people, I talk to people … they may feel fear, shame or stigma around these symptoms: don’t,” says Ismail. “It’s not reflected in dementia loved ones. It’s not reflected in you. These are just signs of brain changes. It doesn’t mean they’re bad people. They’re bad people. It doesn’t mean anything. “Crazy” None of them.

“Just as the brain changes and makes them forget, it makes them believe that it is changing and may not be real.”

In addition to some people not wanting to be honest about hallucinations and delusions, some doctors and professional caregivers have the time, experience, and time to delve into the symptoms to see if they are signs of mental illness. Or do not have expertise. Coupled with many symptoms of dementia, the diagnosis is not always clear.

“”[These signs] It rarely happens alone, “says Ismail. One may be primary. For some, [dementia] If they make progress, they can get them all. “


According to experts, to find out if you may have a dementia-related mental illness, first ask yourself the following questions:

  • How about people with dementia?
  • Has anything changed recently?
  • If anything, what is worrisome or upset about the person?
  • Have you ever seen or heard that the person may not be genuine, or have you taken any action that suggests that the person has delusions or hallucinations?

If the answer is yes, then in the last one, the doctor will try to rule out medical conditions that can cause delusions and hallucinations. For example, urinary tract infections can cause hallucinations. Severe depression can be accompanied by hallucinations.

“The important thing is that the patient may not tell you if there is something wrong, but when the caretaker, care partner, or caregiver asks about any changes, abnormalities, or something different. , They will give you something. Information, “said George Grossberg, MD, Head of Geriatric Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, St. Louis University School of Medicine. I will.

“If you ask the right kind of question and spend the right amount of time, it’s not difficult.”

Recognition of psychotic symptoms of dementia

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