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Last Updated July 25, 2019

Identifying OCD in the Elderly

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is categorized by obsessive and unwanted repeated thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Typically these behaviors will cause individuals with the disorder to compulsively or repeatedly act certain behaviors. In more severe cases, this behavior can interfere with daily activities and overall relationships of the afflicted. This disorder varies in rituals and is usually a lifelong anxiety disorder however, it can manifest itself later in seniors as an onset of Alzheimer’s. An individual suffering from OCD will experience little control over their obsessive behaviors, compelled to act on the behavior for temporary relief. These actions can vary from the need to replay thoughts over and over again, to repeated hand washing each day for a very specific  number of times, overall the experience is unpleasant for the afflicted. OCD effects 2.2 million adults and can share some similarities with Dementia in older seniors, here are some ways to help identify if you or a loved one is suffering from OCD.

Although ,no direct correlation between OCD and Dementia has been clearly explained yet, the two conditions seem to crossover in multiple cases. In fact, many early stages of Alzheimer’s mirror the behaviors of someone with OCD. Some common behaviors of  the effected elderly include, obsessive counting, obsessive hair washing, repeated checking on things, and hoarding. These thoughts and rituals are often intrusive, exhausting, and consuming to individuals often sparking deep anxiety. If you believe you or someone you know is suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder it is important to make an appointment with your physician. If you are caring for a loved one who has been diagnosed with OCD, it is important to handle the situation with patience and understanding. Know that your loved one’s behaviors are not personal to you and more so symptoms of the disorder. If the disorder is currently destructive to your relationship, you may want to consider family therapy to learn how to best interact around the condition. It is important to note that proper treatment can provide significant relief from OCD behaviors.

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