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Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Paranoid Schizophrenic?


 x0je-taime - Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:41 pm

Hello,

My grandmother has just recently been admitted to the hospital for acting "crazy", after hearing from my mother some of the things she had been doing I thought it sounded an awful like the symptoms of someone with paranoid schizophrenia.

My grandfather brought her after she called 911 every day for a week, convinced that he was having a heart attack and was going to die (he's fine). When the ambulance showed up each time, she accused everyone of being "out to get" her - she believes that everyone is plotting against her. She will not let my grandfather leave her side as she believes he will either die or carry out some plot to "get" her.
In addition to this, he also caught her "talking" to her dead father a few times.
Other symptoms that are evident besides these apparent delusions and auditory hallucinations are anxiety, aggression and violence/quarreling with everyone, suicidal thoughts and behaviour and anger.

She has been on diazepam and oxycontin for a number of years for chronic pain which she always complained about; but she has not complained of pain since this extreme mental state began a few days ago.

It is like she has completely vacated her mind, you can tell just by looking into her eyes that she is not the same person in there.

My questions: Does this sound like paranoid schizophrenia? Can elderly people develop schizophrenia (she is 64 and has not had an episode like this before, although close family have always noted something a little off with her behaviour)? What are the odds of her coming out of this state?

Thank you for your time.
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:56 pm

Hi -

Such a late onset of schizophrenia is possible, but is not common. There are other possibilities in her age group, particularly if she has any physical problems. A primary consideration is any form of dementia, whether due to a series of mini-strokes, accelerated aging changes in the brain, or Alzheimer's Disease. Major Depression can have unusual symptoms in the elderly, particularly the paranoia and hallucinations. Although it seems odd, debilitating conditions like dehydration or severe constipation can trigger similar symptoms, including the hallucinations. In view of all this, a complete physical examination would be a good first step in identifying what is going on with your grandmother, including ruling out any possibility she has overused her prescription medications. If there does not appear to be a physical issue, then a psychological evaluation would be in order. Her fears about your grandfather's health or being out to "get" her could be present with any of these conditions.

If the problem is due to a physical issue, the chance for recovery is very good. Depression can be treated very successfully. If a dementia process is present, symptoms can be relieved somewhat by medications.

Good luck to you and your grandparents. I hope your grandmother feels better soon.

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