Are Hallucinations a Common Symptom of Dementia?

Seniors with dementia may experience hallucinations as their symptoms progress. This can be difficult for caregivers to address, but there are ways to soothe seniors who are having hallucinatory experiences. Ahead, learn more about the types of hallucinations people with dementia experience and the best ways for caregivers to help. 

Types of Hallucinations

Seniors with dementia may have two broad types of hallucinations: visual hallucinations and hallucinations involving other sensory systems. Visual hallucinations, which cause seniors to see things that aren’t really there, are the most common form. These hallucinations can run the gamut from simple to highly detailed. A senior may see anything from flashing lights to a beloved former pet. 

While visual hallucinations are most prevalent, hallucinations can also occur via other forms of sensory perception. Seniors may have tactile hallucinations, auditory hallucinations, and olfactory hallucinations. 

Types of Dementia

Hallucinations are more prevalent with certain forms of dementia, such as dementia associated with Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. Seniors with Lewy body dementia may experience visual hallucinations of unusually colored people on a daily basis. Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia are also more likely to cause auditory, tactile, and olfactory hallucinations than other forms of dementia.

If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Senior Stride Home Care, a leading provider of elderly home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Helping a Senior with Hallucinations

If you suspect your senior loved one is hallucinating, you should start by scheduling an appointment with his or her doctor. Before the appointment, try to take detailed notes about the circumstances of the hallucinatory experience: the time of day, the type of hallucination (visual, auditory), medications taken, etc. As some hallucinations are caused by prescription medications, this kind of information may help the doctor pinpoint the source of the problem. 

When your loved one is hallucinating, the best way to help is to be calm and nonconfrontational. While you can try to explain what’s happening, don’t become argumentative. Instead, treat your parent with compassion. Ask your loved one to explain what he or she sees, hears, or feels. Since hallucinations can be triggered by the environment, you can also try to lead your loved one away from his or her current surroundings.

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be extremely challenging, and a compassionate professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support. Families looking for top-rated Oshkosh home care service providers can reach out to Senior Stride Home Care. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones.

The Difference between Hallucinations & Visual Mistakes

Hallucinations aren’t the only reason a senior might report seeing a person, animal, or thing that isn’t there. Vision is a complex multistep process, and the impact of dementia on the brain can impede this process in ways that are frustrating but not necessarily indicative of hallucinations. 

There are two main types of visuoperceptual difficulties: misperceptions and misidentifications. Misperceptions involve perceiving one thing to be something else, such as when a senior mistakes a green carpet for grass. Misidentifications happen when the brain faces difficulty with specific, rather than general, identifications. For instance, a senior might misidentify his or her daughter as his or her niece. 

Helping a Senior with Visuoperceptual Difficulties

If visual processing is the cause of the problem, caregivers can help seniors manage their eyesight and their visual environments. Aging adults should have regular optometrist appointments, and they may need different glasses for different activities. 

At home, make sure your loved one’s environment is as easy to see as possible. The more familiar seniors are with their environments, the less likely they are to slip and injure themselves. To increase environmental comfort, keep the arrangement and décor of rooms consistent. Use colors to draw the eye to important spatial information. For example, using a plate that contrasts with the color of the table can make mealtimes easier. Bright, even lighting can also help.

If you’re looking for reliable dementia care, Oshkosh Senior Stride Home Care offers high-quality at-home care for seniors who are managing the challenges of cognitive decline. We offer a revolutionary program called the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), which uses mentally stimulating activities to boost cognitive health in the elderly. CTM has proven to help seniors with dementia regain a sense of pride and accomplishment and learn how to engage with others in an enjoyable way. To create a customized home care plan for your loved one, call Senior Stride Home Care at 920-717-1767 today.

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