Dementia can cause a person to see or hear things that aren’t there. This can be scary and difficult to watch for people around them. If you think someone close to you is experiencing hallucinations, read on.
Here we will discuss dementia and hallucinations – what you need to know.
What are hallucinations
Hallucinations involve seeing, hearing, smelling or feeling something that isn’t there. Visual hallucinations are the most common type and may range from seeing flashing lights to seeing people in the room that aren’t there.
People with dementia are often thought to be hallucinating when in fact they are simply mistaken about what they have seen. People with dementia will experience a change in the way they perceive things.
Hallucinations and dementia
Hallucinations with dementia are caused by damage to the brain and differ from person to person. It also depends on the type of dementia the person is diagnosed with. For example, people with Alzheimer’s disease often experience hallucinations relatively briefly and for typically short periods of time. For those with Lewy body dementia (LBD), hallucinations are more often persistent and long-term.
Hallucinations can also be caused by a physical illness, a disease, or in rare occurrences, medication. It’s important to tell a doctor if the person you’re caring for begins hallucinating.
How to cope when someone is hallucinating
Your response to a person that is hallucinating can have a big impact on how they experience that moment.
Calm – Try to remain calm and gently explain to them what is happening. If they are not accepting of the real situation, don’t argue. This can make them more agitated and upset.
Reassurance – Provide reassurance and ask them to describe what they are experiencing.
Change location – If you notice that hallucinations tend to occur in a particular place, try to move to a different area.
Health check – Are they eating, drinking and using the bathroom enough? Hunger, dehydration and constipation can all cause hallucinations in elderly people.
Distraction – Try to distract the person to focus on something else. Sometimes this can help distract from the hallucination.
There are times when you should seek medical help straight away:
- The hallucinations involve multiple senses
- The hallucinations frighten the person
- The hallucinations last a long time
- The hallucinations happen often
- The person seems more confused than usual (which may be a sign of delirium).
People are less likely to hear voices that are not there when they are talking to someone real. Having company may help keep hallucinations to a minimum.
Here at Eximius, we provide dedicated and compassionate live-in care to people with a range of conditions, including dementia. If you are curious to learn more about how we can help you or a loved one, we’d love to hear from you. You can contact us here.
You may also be interested in the following: