It is common for Alzheimer’s patients to experience confusion, paranoia, delusions and hallucinations. When that’s the case, caregivers and loved ones can be at a loss to handle it, especially if the hallucinations are making the senior agitated. In this article, we tell you how to handle dementia-related hallucinations and the distress that can come with it.
What are Hallucinations?
Firstly, it is important to understand exactly what hallucinations are. They can be confused with delusions, but the two have marked differences. There’s a sensory element attached to hallucinations, whether that is visual, auditory, tactile, or any combination of senses. Delusions do not necessarily have a sensory element, and are defined by a belief that reality is other as it is. For instance, a dementia patient may be convinced that their loved one is actually a stranger.
With both hallucinations and delusion, paranoia can be behind your loved one’s confusion. This is caused by feeling of fear and suspicion. As the memories of dementia patients start to decline, their brains can attempt to fill in the gaps with delusions and hallucinations.
Managing Hallucinations in Seniors with Dementia
Hallucinations can be distressing, both for the senior and the caregiver. One important thing to remember when dealing with hallucinations is not to contradict what the senior claims to see, hear or feel. When you do that, you can end up causing additional distress as the senior perceives that you don’t believe them.
If the hallucination induces positive feelings or doesn’t cause any harm, such as hearing music playing or children singing, it’s best to agree with what the senior and affirm their experience. However, if the hallucination induces negative feelings and/or disturbing behavior, below are some ways you can manage it:
- If there are any triggers in the immediate environment, such as a mirror causing the senior to think they have seen a stranger, remove them. Factors such as poor lighting and ambient noise can also trigger a hallucination.
- Affirm the senior’s feelings in a way that assures them you understand what they are experiencing and that you wish to help them.
- Gently guide the senior towards another room or take them for a walk. Distraction can help to remove the hallucination from their minds and induce calmness.
Residential Memory Care Can Improve Your Loved One’s Quality of Life
If you have a loved one living with dementia, Alzheimer’s or any other memory-related condition, you may be struggling to find the best care option for their needs. Residential memory care at Discovery Commons At Bradenton is a great option when your loved one is unable to receive the level of care and attention they need at home. Meaningful interactions and failure-free activities will be introduced to improve your loved one’s quality of life throughout. In addition, our professional and compassionate team members will maintain a steady stream of communication with you at all times, giving you peace of mind that your loved one is in safe hands.