Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

My dad clearly has schizophrenia but family is refusing to believe and accept

My dad is 74 and in my opinion he’s had signs of paranoia schizophrenia for year’s but it’s recently beengetting worse. My sisters who I told refuse to believe me and one of them is telling doctors etc it’s Alzheimer‘s or something “old age/memory related” instead…

I live alone with him and for the last couple of years he’s been accusing me of stuff like controlling his phone whenever it stops working, controlling the internet whenever it cuts off, says that I’m trying to kill him, etc. Aren’t these clear signs of schizophrenia ??? For the last couple weeks he’s been putting a chair in front of his door in his room and he rarely ever comes out anymore and stays in isolation, he has trouble walking and seems as if he’s really sick and weak but when he becomes angry or triggered by something he’s all of a sudden able to walk etc fine, and is either abusive or extremely paranoid looking thinking I’m going to hurt him or something.

Need some good advice! there’s a lot more that’s happened but will keep it short. This is so depressing to live with

it is highly unlikely that your dad has schizophrenia at that age. Even if it has been for “years” it would have to be for about 50 years! Maybe he has a kind of dementia that make him paranoid and have delusions and want to isolate more.

there’s such thing as elderly schizophrenia i’ve done intense research for months now.

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Maybe ask one of your sisters to come and watch him for the week or to invite him over for a week to see what your dealing with. I’m not sure if you just need to have someone to talk with that isn’t fighting with you on every thing, or if you hoping the doctors can do something for him? There should be something they can do for his paranoia or even depressing. You have to watch out for some of these meds with elderly patients though.
Hope you can get some help with him.

For a time, I had a somewhat opposite situation: my father was on AP medication and an antidepressant after seemingly either an undiagnosed bipolar or schizoaffective disorder. Later on, since he still seemed to be aware of events, could access memory and carry on conversations, some in the family wouldn’t accept he had developed dementia and especially not a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

When he started having motor control issues, the same family members began to blame the psych medication and wanted him taken off of it. This escalated to a point where a brother diagnosed with bipolar disorder (often not medication-compliant) became quite agitated and going off on “self-medicated” alcohol binges and showed possible signs of cirrhosis which he attributed to other causes. After consulting me and doing some research, my mother and father hatched a secret plan to reduce and eliminate the AP medication against his psychiatrist’s advice. I take the same AP medication for my Schizoaffective disorder and could weigh-in on what I knew about it. They eventually revealed their plan, and yet his motor function declined to the point where he could no longer stand and walk and became bed-bound, their objections were dropped (although they continued to argue the specific dementia diagnosis).

There were other hurdles beyond this, however. My brother with bipolar disorder moved on to obsessing about plans for my father’s obituary and funeral service as he transitioned to hospice care. This led to more binge drinking and delusional rants, but has seemingly died down. My sister and I are waiting for yet another shoe to drop when he eventually passes, but at least he (and my other brother) have stopped obsessing about the psych medication.

My advice is to get a bit more pragmatic about things, and let people believe what they want to believe and get doctors to treat the symptoms rather than argue about a diagnosis. Treatment for schizophrenia is largely AP medication; treatment for psych issues related to dementia is typically AP medication. Dementia diagnoses become a bit academic after a while, because my understanding is doctors only definitively know a diagnosis by examining the brain postmortem. Most AP medications carry warnings that they tend to shorten life in dementia-related treatment. Don’t let that scare anyone: doctors know the trade-offs and people who argue that they aren’t needed are generally those who don’t have to deal with the symptoms, or are in other forms of denial. My psychiatrist related his experience with his mother in a session who recently passed, and said it was hard or harder for him because he knew the risks, but it was the right choice.

The chief thing I’ve learned from my father’s decline is that you aren’t just treating the patient in geriatric situations, you are “treating” the whole family. This especially becomes clear as mobility issues increase and the subject of end-of-life transitional care and hospice come up. And while it may be hard to accept, hospice care can make things much easier on everyone as seemingly the floodgates open, and everyone starts to get the care and support that they need.

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