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Alzheimer's Disease

Brain Tumors and Alzheimer's Disease

12/11/2003

Question:

My mother had a brain tumor and has been in a nursing home for a number of years. She has started having delusion, she believes that her given name is Mary and that she has given birth to Joesh the son of God and that he lives there with her and that there are aids there molesting him. Is this Alzheimer’s disease? They did a CAT scan on her and found a mass, but I am still waiting for the results of the MRI. Thank you in advance for any help you can give me.

Answer:

The symptoms and behavior you describe in your mother must be very frightening for you. If the onset of the delusions was rather sudden, it is possible that she has a brain tumor, which can create alarming delusions for people. If your mother has had a gradual onset of memory and thinking changes, in addition to delusional beliefs, it is possible that she may have Alzheimer`s disease. Once the results of her MRI comes in, you may have clarification of possible causes. There are many existing medications that can be used to treat delusions in older adults. It also is important to provide your mother with reassurance that the baby/child is OK and the aids will not harm him. Arguing with someone with delusions or trying to convince them their beliefs are not true is typically not effective, as the experiences and beliefs are very real to the person due to brain changes. We encourage you to communicate with your mother`s doctors and other staff at the nursing home to be sure she is diagnosed and treated properly. 

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Response by:

Paula K Ogrocki, PhD Paula K Ogrocki, PhD
Assistant Professor of Neurology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University