This disabling brain disorder can be difficult to diagnose

Schizophrenia is a lifelong disorder, which requires medication and regular evaluation by your family doctor. And seniors beware – schizophrenia is not just a ‘young person’s’ disease.

Most people believe schizophrenia is developed in your earlier years of life but that is not always true. About 23% of people living with schizophrenia are seniors who developed the disorder after the age of 40. This is considered late-onset schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a condition that causes changes in perception, thoughts and behaviors. The cause is unknown but your family history can be used as a tool to determine your risk for schizophrenia. Your risk increases if a grandparent or parent suffers from schizophrenia.

Women are more likely to be at risk for later onset schizophrenia. People with later onset schizophrenia are more likely to have visual and tactile hallucinations and a third-person running commentary.

Schizophrenia is a disabling brain disorder and it may make the person believe that people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts or plotting harm against them. Schizophrenia patients can sit for hours without moving or talking.

Someone suffering from schizophrenia may not recognize the signs. If you know someone who displays any of the signs below please contact your family doctor:

  • lack of insight
  • auditory hallucinations (hearing voices)
  • delusions of persecution
  • suspiciousness
  • flat mood
  • thoughts spoken out loud

While schizophrenia is a lifelong disorder there are treatments available and it is possible to live a long and productive life.

In almost all cases, schizophrenia can be treated with drug therapy. It is important for the patient to realize that all medications are to be taken daily unless otherwise directed by your doctor.

Schizophrenia treatment for the elderly is largely the same as any other patients. There is one minor difference, however; it is a necessity to treat depression that often results in elderly patients with psychosis.

To learn more about schizophrenia among seniors, check out the resources provided by the U.S. National Institutes of Health or the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada.