DELUSIONAL NEIGHBOR – EARLY DEMENTIA

Bob considers himself a lover of animals, he feels all the little animals in his community need him. Bob would be amazed to know he is considered a “delusional neighbor.” Bob is well known in his condo community as the owner who is bringing an unwanted amount of small critters to the property. Bob throws peanuts and bread out his 4th floor windows into trees below and onto neighbor’s patios morning. noon and night to feed his friends. Bob extends his feeding to the parking lot, putting food out every evening next to his car, resulting in bringing skunks to the property.

As neighbors try to reason with Bob, pointing out the heavily treed grounds with many walnut trees for the squirrels and natural sources of food for all, Bob continues to throw out food. And that is the problem, you cannot reason away a delusion. A delusion is a fixed false belief that isn’t able to be changed by presenting facts or explanations.

Bob has lived in this condo, with these neighbors for 18 years. To all outward appearances Bob hasn’t changed much over these years. He has always lived alone here in his condo. Bob drives a car, maintains his property, even investing in upgrades as needed. Bob always appears clean and well groomed, wearing clean clothes. Bob does his own grocery shopping and prepares his own food.

However for the last year Bob has been so sure that the animals need him and need food, that he has gone against all the established rules of the condo association. He argues with his neighbors and although he has been fined multiple times for feeding the animals he has vowed not to stop.

Recently Bob has solved his own problem by deciding to move. He is relocating about 15 miles away from the condo and interestingly from his beloved critters. I can only wonder if he will leave this delusion behind and in the new and strange environment develop a new delusion. Suspicions and delusions are common in people with early memory loss. When the memory loss makes the person feel like something is wrong, but they cannot identify what the problem is, they will create a new explanation that, for them fits the facts.

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing