What are Dementia-Related Hallucinations?

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Hallucinations are one of the many symptoms of dementia and are most common in the later stages of the disease. Not all seniors experience hallucinations, but it’s important for Caledon dementia caregivers to know the signs and how to manage the symptoms. 

Why Hallucinations Happen
Dementia is marked by significant mental decline, including memory loss and impaired thinking. The damage caused to the brain can result in sensory changes. Without proper sensory function, some seniors might have false perceptions.

Types of Hallucinations
Hallucinations aren’t limited to seeing people or objects that aren’t really there. Your loved one might think he or she hears something that isn’t there, or experience hallucinations in the other major senses, such as taste, smell and touch.

Examples include:

  • Seeing a deceased loved one
  • Hearing someone talking in a silent room
  • Feeling something crawling on them
  • Eating or smelling something “good” that is actually bad, such as spoiled milk

What You Can Do
First, it’s important for live-in caregivers to help a senior cope with the hallucination. Rather than argue, try to change the subject or offer a distraction instead. Call your loved one’s physician in the case of frequent hallucinations—relief may be provided through non-drug therapies such as meditation. Antipsychotic medications can work in the most severe cases, but there is also an increased risk of stroke with these drugs.

While dementia can cause hallucinations, it’s important to be aware that other senior health concerns can cause them as well. Examples include Parkinson’s disease and dehydration.

If you need help managing your loved one’s dementia care, reach out to Caledon Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers are highly trained, compassionate, and can bolster your loved one’s care with the Cognitive Therapeutics Method, an activities-based program designed to slow cognitive decline. Call 905-951-8885 and schedule a complimentary in-home consultation with a Care Manager.