Ask the Expert is brought to you each week by Elayne Forgie and the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center.
Question: How Do I Deal With My Husband’s Hallucinations? They really scare me.
Answer: Dealing with hallucinations begins with understanding what they are. People with Alzheimer’s disease may see or hear things that aren’t really there. The person may be very upset and as in your situation, behave in such a way that the caregiver becomes very frightened.
The hallucinations that your husband is experiencing are basically false perceptions that are caused by changes in his brain. It’s important that your husband’s doctor is made aware of his hallucinations so he can evaluate and perhaps prescribe medication that might help.
7 Tips To Cope With Hallucinations in Alzheimer’s Disease
As a caregiver, knowing how to cope with hallucinations can help you best respond. Here are some tips:
- Assess the situation and decide if there are safety issues for either your husband or yourself.
- Try to reassure him. Let him know that you are there for him and that you’ll take care of him.
- Try calming him with a soft touch or embrace. Make eye contact and be aware of your own facial expression. You want to be calm and as soothing as possible.
- Make sure to acknowledge what he is seeing or hearing by saying something like “I know you’re worried” or “I know how frightened you are”. Let him know that you know he is struggling and that you are there for him.
- Try to distract him. If it is safe, leave the house and go for a short walk. If you are worried that you won’t be able to get him back inside, try leaving the room and engaging him in an activity that will be distracting.
- You can also cover mirrors with towels if he is seeing a person in the mirror that he doesn’t recognize.
- Try to eliminate shadows caused by lighting that can cause distortions and images that might be upsetting.
Feel free to call the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center to speak with a Geriatric Care Manager that can give you additional guidance and support at 877-760-9199