My father is exhibiting classical symptoms of delusional paranoia. A number of months ago, he misplaced a valued watch and accused my 60 year old brother of stealing it. When my mother found the watch in his dresser drawer, he insisted that it wasn’t the same watch and that my brother and his friend had gotten another one engraved and put in its place. My brother has NEVER been dishonest or shown any interest in any of my parents’ meager possessions, and yet my father is so adamant that my brother can no longer visit or call. This is causing a terrible rift in the family. I live thousands of miles away and can offer little help. Is there any treatment for this. My father has always had a suspicious nature and frequently distrusted family members (as opposed to strangers).

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It’s difficult to know if there is a treatment for this situation without knowing what is happening to your father. As you suggest, your father has always been suspicious with family members. I’m gathering that this recent episode is far beyond your father’s ‘normal’ paranoia, and seems to represent some new process that is occurring to him. Several sorts of things could account for increased paranoia, including a progressive early-stage dementia (like Alzheimer’s), a drinking or drug problem), and even late-onset schizophrenia. Effective treatment needs to stem from an accurate diagnosis. Your father should be evaluated by a geriatric psychiatrist specialist who can make a diagnosis and then prescribe the best available treatment.


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