Does my 78 year old mother have Dementia or Paranoid Schizophrenia?

Rose b asked...

We moved our 78 year old mother from her home into a very nice patio home in a senior living environment. She had complained for years in her old place that the neighbors were harassing her and 'making meth'. She now lives 40 miles away from previous home but says the old neighbors are driving up to her new home to still harass her and now her newest neighbors in unit next to hers are 'making meth' and the fumes are making her sick. She gets infuriated when no one else can smell the odors. Now she says she has to move and is threatening to drive her car into a tree because no one believes her. We all know that where ever she moves - it will be the same scenario again. We don't know how to deal with her.

Expert Answer

Ladislav Volicer, M.D., Ph.D., is recognized as an international expert on advanced dementia care. He is a courtesy full professor at the School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, and visiting professor at the Third Medical Faculty, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. Twenty-five years ago, he established one of the first dementia special care units.

If your mother has no cognitive impairment after years of having this hallucination, it is unlikely that she has dementia. It is more likely that she has paranoid schizophrenia that should be treatable.