The meanings of delusions in dementia: A preliminary study

Jiska Cohen-Mansfield*, Hava Golander, Joshua Ben-Israel, Doron Garfinkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

One of the common symptoms of dementia is delusions. Due to a biological conceptualization of the behaviors represented as delusions, these are classified as psychotic symptoms. This is a qualitative and quantitative study aiming to describe the delusions experienced by older persons with dementia and the context of occurrence, and to elucidate their etiology. Participants were 74 nursing home residents aged 65 and over, diagnosed with dementia, from nine nursing homes in Israel. Participants with delusions were found to have significantly more difficulties in performing ADLs, and poorer vision and hearing. Based on assessment using the BEHAVE-AD, six categories of delusions were examined: 1 One's house is not one's home, 2. Theft, 3. Danger, 4. Abandonment, 5. Misidentification, and 6. Other non-paranoid. Common themes appeared across delusions including reality, disorientation, re-experience of past events, loneliness and insecurity, boredom, and trigger. Current results suggest that delusions may not represent psychotic symptoms for most participants, because they sometimes represented reality, or were neither firm nor incontrovertible. Thus, utilizing the term delusion relegates the person's behavior to the domain of severe psychiatric phenomena and precludes understanding its true meaning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-104
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry Research
Volume189
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 30 Aug 2011

Funding

FundersFunder number
Marie Curie International044946
European Commission
Israel Science Foundation1067/07

    Keywords

    • Alzheimer's disease
    • Etiology
    • Old age
    • Psychosis

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