Wednesday Workshop ~ What’s the Difference Between a Delusion and a Hallucination?

Wednesday Workshop ~  What’s the Difference Between a Delusion and a Hallucination?

Good morning and welcome to today’s Wednesday Workshop!

Due to changes in the brain, people living with Alzheimer’s may sometimes experience hallucinations or delusions.  Understanding the difference between these can be helpful.

A hallucination is a false perception of objects or events and is sensory in nature. When individuals with Alzheimer’s have a hallucination, they see, hear, smell, taste or even feel something that isn’t really there. They may see insects crawling on their hand or hear people talking to them and respond to those voices.

In contrast, a delusion is defined as a false idea, sometimes originating in a misinterpretation of a situation. For example, when individuals living with dementia have a delusion, they may think that family members are stealing from them or that the police are following them. This kind of suspicious delusion is sometimes referred to as paranoia.

It’s important to remember that hallucinations and delusions may or may not be upsetting to the person with dementia. Not all hallucinations are frightening, and not all delusions are paranoid in nature.

When helping someone who is experiencing hallucinations or delusions, the best way to start is by arranging a consultation with the person’s doctor. The physician can look for physical causes, such as kidney or bladder infections, dehydration, pain or alcohol/drug abuse, all of which can cause hallucinations or delusions.

When your loved one is experiencing hallucinations or delusions. Assess the situation and determine whether or not the symptom is a problem for you or for the individual. Is the hallucination/delusion upsetting to the person? Is it leading him or her to do something dangerous? Does the sight of an unfamiliar face cause him or her to become frightened? If so, react calmly and quickly with reassuring words, a comforting touch and try to use utilize distraction techniques.

To speak with us here at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center, feel free to call us at 561-588-4545. Thanks for watching and we’ll see you again next week!

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