Recognize the psychotic symptoms of dementia


Many of the approximately 50 million people with dementia also suffer from mental illness. You may hear doctors use the term “psychiatric episode.” This is a time when a person is struggling to determine what is true and what is not.

It can include the following:

  • Misunderstanding that the caregiver is trying to hurt them
  • Insist that they see someone in the room, such as a dead brother or sister or friend, or even an unknown celebrity

Experts say that psychiatric symptoms related to dementia are often not detected and treated in time. This may have a great impact on the health of people with dementia, as well as the health of their families and other caregivers.

“If someone has dementia, the doctor or family member may not take certain things seriously. [person is] Said, instead of realizing that this is a false suspicion or illusion, they just think it is a cognitive problem,” said Gary Small, director of the UCLA President’s Life Center.

“People tend to think that dementia is just a cognitive disease. But obviously, it affects behavior and all aspects of patient and family life.”

Know your terms

Mental illness is a broad term. Two main terms are included in its definition:

  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that others don’t)
  • Delusion (false belief)

The psychiatric part of psychosis related to dementia can sometimes be difficult to grasp.

Zahinoor Ismail, principal investigator of the Ron and Reid Ward Center for Healthy Brain Aging at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, said: “Oh, my goodness, people are Little is known.” “People have various preconceived notions about the meaning of these terms. They can be used interchangeably.

“There is a stigma surrounding them because they associate it with schizophrenia or major mental health problems that occur early in life. In this field, it is indeed often necessary to explain: what is the definition? What do we mean? “

What to pay attention to

It seems clear that if a person with dementia says that his deceased spouse is visiting, or that someone in the nursing home is conspiring to poison food, it shows that something has happened and that person’s care team needs to understand it. But people with psychotic symptoms sometimes don’t know this information well. Even caregivers may leave such things to themselves.

carry on

Ismail said: “I will tell people, I will tell people… They may be afraid of these symptoms, ashamed or stigmatized: please don’t.” “This does not reflect the dementia patients they love, nor does it Reflects you. These are just symptoms of brain changes. This does not mean that they are a bad person, it does not mean that they are a bad person.’Crazy.’ None.

“Just as the brain is changing and causing them to forget, the brain is changing and causing them to believe in things that may not be real.”

Except for some people’s unwillingness to be honest about hallucinations or delusions, some doctors or professional nursing staff just don’t have the time, experience or expertise to explore the symptoms to see if they are mental illness or other symptoms. Combined with the many symptoms of dementia, the diagnosis is not always clear.

“[These signs] Ismail said: “It rarely happens in isolation. You may have psychotic symptoms when you are agitated, and you may be emotional when you are agitated. One may be the main one. For some [dementia] Progress, they can go all out. “

carry on

Experts say that to find out if someone has dementia-related mental illness, you must first ask yourself a question, such as:

  • How do people with dementia feel?
  • Has anything changed recently?
  • What if something bothers or bothers this person?
  • Has the person seen or heard something that may not be true, or acted in a way that might suggest that the person has hallucinations or hallucinations?

If the last answer is “yes”, the doctor will try to rule out any medical conditions that may cause delusions or hallucinations. For example, uterine infections can cause hallucinations. Severe depression may be accompanied by auditory hallucinations.

“The point is that the patient himself may not tell you if there is a problem. But if you ask them about any changes, any unusual, or different, they will give it to you if you have a caregiver, care partner or caregiver. Information,” said George Grossberg (MD), director of geriatric psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at St. Louis University School of Medicine.

“If you ask the right questions and spend the right time, it’s not difficult.”


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