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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Mood Disorders in the Elderly

09/12/2007

Question:

My mother-in-law is 92 yrs old. She has been seeing things that are not there, people and orbs and floating lights, untrusting when we try to reasure her there is nothing out there, then becomes arguementive and suspicious of us. But knows enough not to tell the doctor and demands the same of us. She is never wrong about anything, becomes very hateful when you disagree but examines others and complaines about them, no hygiene.

can you help us asap?

Answer:

There are many conditions that can affect the elderly and their ability to interact with others in a meaningful way.  These include dementia (like Alzheimer's disease), delirium (from many causes), and depression and anxiety. 

Since there are so many causes, including stroke, blood chemistry disturbances and infection, I recommend that you take your mother in law to see her primary care doctor as a starting place.  A complete history will help the doctor perform some tests and help see if there is a treatable cause for the changes in your mother in law.

Good Luck.

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Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati