Wednesday Workshop – Dealing with Your Loved One’s Hallucinations
Hello and welcome to our Wednesday Workshop. As the disease progresses, a person with Alzheimer’s disease may experience hallucinations and/or delusions. Hallucinations are when the person sees, hears, smells, tastes, or feels something that is not there. Delusions are false beliefs that the person thinks are real.
Although hallucinations and delusions are imaginary, they seem very real to the person experiencing them and can cause extreme anxiety, and even panic.
What causes hallucinations and false ideas?
Dementia may cause the person to lose the ability to recognize things because the brain does not accurately interpret the information that it has received. Examples of this include failure to recognize a partner or the house in which the person lives.
Problems with memory, which occur in dementia, may lead to suspiciousness, paranoia and false ideas. If people with dementia are unaware that their memory is poor, they will often create an interpretation in which someone or something else is blamed. This is understandable when they may live in a world with no memory of recent events, where things “disappear”, explanations can be forgotten and conversations do not always make sense.
Where to begin:
Arrange for a medical check-up to eliminate the presence of other physical or psychiatric problems and to check the effects of medication.
What to try:
- Do not argue. It is better to acknowledge that the person may be frightened by the delusions and hallucinations.
- Do not scold the person for losing objects or hiding things.
- Investigate suspicions to check their accuracy.
- Attempt to distract the person if possible.
- Try to respond to the underlying feelings which may be at the bottom of the statements which the person makes.
- Distractions which may help include music, exercise, activities, conversations with friends and looking at old photos.
- Physical contact may be reassuring, but be sure that the person is willing to accept this.
- Try to maintain a familiar environment. If the person has to move, take some familiar things from the previous residence.
- Increase lighting in the home and use night lights.
- Try to maintain consistent caregivers and a consistent routine.
- Try to learn the person’s common hiding places.
- Keeping a diary may help to establish whether these behaviors occur at particular times of the day or with particular people. Identifying such causes may help you to be able to make changes to overcome the difficulties.
- If possible, keep a spare set of things that are often mislaid such as keys, purse or glasses.
- Some hallucinations and false ideas can be ignored if they are harmless and do not cause the person to become agitated.
- Do not take the accusations personally and be aware that the person is not able to control this behavior.
To learn more or to speak with us here at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center
Feel free to call us at (877) 760-9199 or email us below. Thanks for watching today’s Wednesday Workshop and we’ll see you again next week!