What should I know to care for someone with paranoid schizophrenia?

Caring for someone with paranoid schizophrenia means sometimes making decisions for them. People with this condition may have trouble knowing the difference between their hallucinations or delusions and what is real. This means that it's often up to friends and family members to help them seek treatment. Make sure that your loved one gets the help they need. Also, monitor the person's medications to be sure they are being taken. You can also care for a person with paranoid schizophrenia by engaging in family therapy with the individual. This will help you better understand what your loved one is going through, and it will give you a chance to address your own feelings, too.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

People with paranoid schizophrenia can be difficult to deal with. They are often suspicious of others. Their illness causes them to worry about others’ ulterior motives. They become obsessed and concerned that harm is coming their way. If you are unsure of how to care for someone with paranoid schizophrenia, know that this is okay. Like parents caring for a newborn baby, it is normal to feel exhausted and completely confused at times. It takes a lot of strength, love, and patience to do what you are doing. When caring for anyone, especially those with schizophrenia, it’s important to understand the disease in general and the characteristics associated with the subtype. It can help to sit in on appointments to see what the doctor or therapists talk about. They may be able to help you, too, by giving you tips or signs and symptoms to look out for. If this is not possible, seek out family therapy or group therapy opportunities. You and your loved one can go together, discuss the illness, and learn ways for both of you to cope.

And don’t forget to share the love! Continuing to dish out love and acceptance makes a world of difference.

And one more thing, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Managing your stress and ensuring your well-being makes caring for loved ones much easier and more effective, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may be able to get more tips from support groups for family members of patients with mental illnesses.
Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
The National Institutes of Mental Health explains that family members are often the primary caregivers of a person with schizophrenia. If you are caring for a person with paranoid schizophrenia, he may not think he needs treatment or may even think that you or the doctors are trying to harm him. You can help by reminding your loved one to take his medication, taking him to his appointments, and, if needed, arranging his follow-up appointments.

Another aspect of caring for someone with this lifelong brain disorder is that it is important to set realistic goals.  For some people, a realistic goal is to be able to live independently and care for themselves. Others may aim for a steady job or a meaningful relationship.

When caring for a person for schizophrenia, try to be respectful and offer support and love, even if your loved one is saying things that are clearly false or even hurtful. However, if the person you are caring for starts doing or saying dangerous or violent things, do not tolerate these behaviors. Call for help. And remember that as the caregiver for a person with a challenging lifelong condition, you may also need a break or assistance occasionally. Remember that it is important to “care for the caregiver” as well.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.