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Understanding Hallucinations with Dementia

Many seniors who are living with dementia often experience hallucinations. In the early stages of the condition, the individual will usually be able to see their perceptions as false, but as time progresses and memory impairment increases, the events become more and more real to the older adult. As a Boca Raton senior home care provider, we understand that this phenomenon can be very frightening for seniors and their loved ones, and want to provide some information on hallucinations and what can be done to help alleviate anxiety and fear.

What are Hallucinations?

Impaired brain function can create an event that causes an individual with dementia to experience false perceptions. Hallucinations involve the sensory organs and trick the person into seeing, feeling, tasting or smelling things in the environment that are not truly present. The sensations are very real, and it may be nearly impossible to make a loved one understand that what they are experiencing is false.

How Can I Help?

The first reaction by many family caregivers is to talk the individual out of believing that the experience is real. Unfortunately, this approach is almost always ineffective and leaves the senior agitated and the loved one frustrated. It is important to have empathy for the person and understand that the event seems truly authentic. Often, the best solution is to avoid intervening until the sensations pass.

How Can I Reassure My Loved One?

Trying to help a hallucinating loved one can make a family member feel helpless. A three step approach may help the senior to calm down until the experience fades. The method involves the following:

  1. Reassure by offering comfort and protection from the perceived event.
  2. Respond by offering an explanation for the occurrence.
  3. Redirect the individual with a distraction or activity.

What if Danger is Present?

If the situation becomes a threat to your loved one or others around him or her, it will become necessary to step in and intervene. Other loved ones or professional emergency personnel may need to be employed if the circumstances become uncontrollable. If you feel that you are unequipped or unsure of how to cope with some of the advanced symptoms of dementia such as hallucinations, know that help is available. Home care agencies such as Home Care Assistance have professional and highly trained Boca Raton dementia caregivers who know how to manage the symptoms and meet the needs of seniors with this memory condition.

Interested in learning more about in-dementia care in Boca Raton? Reach out to Home Care Assistance of Boca Raton at 561-826-9282 and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with a friendly and knowledgeable Care Manager.