Dealing with Alzheimer’s-Related Hallucinations

September 15, 2018 | BY PHS Staff

Here at Preferred HealthStaff, we know that diseases like Alzheimer’s that affect the memory can be one of the most stressful things to deal with as a relative enters old age. It’s why we have staff that are specifically trained in Alzheimer’s home care, ready to deal with a variety of symptoms and issues. We help a family deal with their loved one’s issues, we create a safe and joyful environment when possible, and we prevent your relative from wandering off.

We also help deal with Alzheimer’s-related hallucinations. Some people may not realize that this can also be a big part of the disease to contend with. Here’s how we approach this complex task.

Know What to Expect

You need to know that these hallucinations aren’t just visual or auditory. Our Alzheimer’s care experts have seen them affect a variety of senses. They may smell or even taste something that isn’t there. Some hallucinations are just normal scenes that your loved one may be used to, while others can be frightening. Many times these hallucinations have something to do with the past.

Rule Out Other Causes

If someone with Alzheimer’s disease begins to have hallucinations, it’s also incredibly important to rule out other potential causes. While hallucinations can be caused by the changes in the brain that Alzheimer’s disease triggers, they can also begin due to a variety of other factors. Our dementia home care experts would also want to look for physical issues, like dehydration and certain types of infection, along with other mental problems like schizophrenia. Alcohol and drug abuse, or even a prescribed medication, could also be causing problems. You’ll want to rule these out and make sure that your loved one is getting the treatment they need.

Don’t Argue

If an Alzheimer’s patient begins to see, hear, or smell things that aren’t there, you don’t want to argue with them. Depending on the hallucination, arguing with a patient and telling them that what they’re feeling is incorrect can just confuse, anger, or scare them more. Reassure them calmly if possible and don’t be too overbearing.

Know When to Intervene

Sometimes a hallucination doesn’t require an intervention. Carefully try to evaluate the situation. If the Alzheimer’s patient is afraid or upset, they probably need you. If the hallucination could cause them to do something dangerous, you definitely need to step in.

Learn How to Help Them Cope

Over time, our dementia home care experts have learned a few ways to help a patient cope with a variety of hallucinations. They can be jarring, to both the patient and caregiver, but acting calmly and finding a way to make a patient more comfortable can make a big difference.

Be calm and be supportive, making sure that the person knows you’re there for them. Once they put their attention on you, you may be able to distract them from their hallucination. You can lead them to another room or talk about activities you both enjoy. You can also look around to see what could act as triggers for hallucinations and change them. Focus on issues like mirrors, noises that could be misheard, and lights that cast shadows. Our Alzheimer’s home care providers can help you with all of this and more.