How to Deal with Hallucinations Experienced by an Older Loved One with Dementia

According to information from the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately 16% of all elderly patients that suffer from the various forms of dementia will experience hallucinations.Dealing With Hallucinations Experienced By Older Loved One With Dementia

These are false or unreal sensory-based experiences that may include those that can be seen, heard, tasted, and even seemingly touched.

Despite a person’s best effort to inform the dementia sufferer that the hallucinations are not real, the patient will still experience the hallucination and will still believe that it is real.

The question is, how is it possible to deal with a loved one’s hallucinations?

Why Do Some People with Dementia Have Hallucinations?

While there are still many unknowns when it comes to dementia, it is of solid medical opinion that hallucinations are probably caused by the changes that occur in the brain, as the disease advances.

Other hypothesis regarding the onset of hallucinations include environmental stimulation, being in or around unfamiliar places or people, changes that occur within the patient’s normal routine, and medicinal interactions.

Helping a Loved One Experiencing Hallucinations

Hallucinations may be either pleasant or unpleasant. In most instances, you will find that the overall experience is an unfavorable one for your loved one.

Helping them during a hallucination and dealing with the event yourself may prove to be exceptionally challenging. The following outlines a few measures that you can take in order to deal with the crisis:

  1. First, you should never attempt to tell your loved one that what they are experiencing is “not real”. It does not matter what you say or what you do, their brain is presenting a situation that is very real to them. The best thing that you can do is simply validate what they are experiencing. In doing so, you will be responding empathetically to their feelings. Simply inquire about what they are going through. Avoid trying to offer a rational explanation as this could increase agitation and result in aggressive behaviors that could put them and yourself in danger.
  2. The next step to dealing with your older loved one’s hallucinations is to ensure that they are safe. This means looking around for any potential hazards and keeping them away from those hazards. If you find that the hallucination is resulting is serious behavior issues – such as aggression – you should call for assistance. Failure to do so could result in either you or your loved one becoming injured.
  3. If your loved one is having hallucinations, you should determine if there are certain triggers causing the occurrences. Are they having issues at a certain time of the day or when they eat? Is there a lot of background noise? Is there too much visual stimulation – such as a flashing television screen? Is there noise in the home that could make your loved one believe someone else is in the home? Are the lights too dim? If you identify any potential triggers, you may be able to eliminate those triggers and the hallucinations could slow down or come to a complete stop.

Free Senior Placement Services

If you find that your loved one’s hallucinations are extremely distressing or even potentially dangerous to them or to you, it may be time to consider looking into placement – such as assisted living or a nursing home.

The professionals that work within these facilities are trained to deal with dementia patients and are capable of keeping them safe and well cared for as they advance through the disease.

For free senior placement services, contact us today by calling: 973-713-0096

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