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Better plan for delusions caused by dementia


Dementia sufferers are often prescribed psychotropic drugs to lessen symptoms like delusion. Psychotropic drugs though have side effects and create less than advantageous conditions. Many delusions in fact have a rational basis and could be more effectively treated with behavioral or talk therapy. A better understanding of delusions has direct implications for the treatment of the people who suffer because of them.

Researchers for a new study examined six common types of delusion: fear of abandonment, fear of personal theft, and feelings of disorientation. They included 74 adults with dementia from several different nursing homes. They also included caretakers in the survey, people who had daily interaction with the patients.

“If you begin to think about these delusions from the point of view of the dementia patient, you begin to understand that their delusions are explainable reflections of the reality they live in,” explains Professor Cohen-Mansfield, Tel Aviv University Herczeg Institute on Aging and Sackler Faculty of Medicine. It is rational that some patients felt “not at home” because they aren't at home or aren't made to feel at home. Anxiety can accompany these feelings and create the delusions. Once understood however, talk therapy can help with particular misperception.

Many delusional dementia patients are labeled psychotic. This may be inappropriate. Context needs to be taken into account. Delusions do not match the definition of psychosis. A better analysis will create empathy and a better treatment program. “If you can ascertain why the patient is experiencing these delusions, you can create another treatment plan that addresses issues of orientation,” Prof Cohen-Mansfield explained.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Psychiatry Research

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