Aside from confusion and memory loss, common hallmarks associated with Alzheimer’s disease, paranoia is systematic of the illness as well. Not only does the condition rear its ugly head in people living with Alzheimer’s, but also people with other mental illnesses. Caring for a loved-one who is paranoid can be a trying task. Do you know the signs of paranoia? Being aware of these disturbing signs and reacting correctly can be a caregiver’s only defense from their loved-one’s agitated state of mind. Here are some signs of paranoia:

Isolation — people who are paranoid often times do not want to be around other people. It could be they fear someone is out to get them.

Suspicion — they believe people are talking about them or plotting against them. Perhaps even trying to kill them. Even a kind act is considered to have a hidden motive.

Inability to relax — this can cause aggressive behavior because they don’t trust others easily. They might think bad things will always happen to them and they may have a poor self-image.

Delusional — a person with paranoia may have feelings of grandeur and believe they have great worth and knowledge. Also, they may believe to be associated with a higher power.

Now that you know some of the signs of paranoia, here is how to react if your loved-one is exhibiting such thoughts and behaviors:

Do not ever tell the person he or she is acting paranoid. This will agitate your loved-one even more.

If your loved-one fears someone is plotting against them, try relaxing them. Show signs of sympathy. Ask your loved-one to explain why they feel that way.

If your loved-one believes something has been stolen from them, help them look for it.

Try to change the subject if your care-recipient believes you are trying to harm or hurt them. If you defend yourself, they will most likely think you are guiltier.

If you have visitors to your home, speak to them about your loved-one’s condition. Warn the visitor not to overreact to false claims against them.

Attempt to avoid crowds because a person who is paranoid can become very unsettled. The calmer the situation, the better.

If you truly believe your care-recipient suffers from paranoia, speak to their doctor. There are medications that may be able to help control the erratic thoughts and behaviors of your loved-one.

Gail Gilman is a family life consultant, M.Ed., C.F.C.S. and Professor Emeritus University of Minnesota. Reach her at

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