Alzheimer's: How to Care for Someone Who Is Hallucinating
The mind plays such funny tricks. Remember that dress some people saw as blue and black, while others saw it as white and gold? Or has there been a time when someone told a story that led to the recollection of a memory, only to learn later that it didn’t actually happen?
The brain is complex, hardworking, and the control center of everything, from sense of smell to touch.
The human brain is a complicated system. It is hardworking and is the center point where all things in the body are controlled, ranging from one’s sense of smell to touch to the movement in our limbs. When an individual suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, the mind becomes trickier, leading to delusions or hallucinations. In such cases, the individual will need more love and support from their close friends and family members. Caring for such people is fraught with difficulties, and there is always a question as to how to correct them and how one knows what is real and what is imaginary.
Hallucinations are basically a false perception of a particular event or object, but they can turn out to be real and even sensory to the individual experiencing them. Hallucinations are known to impact the individual’s vision, smelling, hearing, physical touch, or even their sense of taste. At times, they can be comforting to them, while at others, they can be really upsetting. Delusions, on the other hand, are not related to the senses; they are mostly false ideas or misconceptions. An individual may experience paranoid delusions or, at times, they can be positive, such as believing they have won the lottery or met a celebrity. Being a caregiver to an Alzheimer’s patient undergoing delusions or hallucination is often tough, and one needs to first understand the difference between delusions and hallucinations. One should note, however, that there are no easy methods or tests to differentiate between the two. Both delusions and hallucinations can be unique to the individual as well as their surroundings. It is up to the caregiver to be well aware of the patient and to make the right judgment on when further investigation is required and when to just relax.
Since Alzheimer’s is considered a medical condition of the brain, it is not a surprise that an affected individual may also experience hallucinations or delusions. Loss of cognitive ability such as reasoning or learning along with loss of memory both take a hit and can thus lead to hallucinations or delusions. In such cases, the caregiver has to look for the root cause instead of the disease to determine if there is any kind of trigger that can be decreased or outright eliminated. A few of the possible triggers that can induce hallucinations are: another medical condition; the use of certain medications; partaking in alcohol or smoking; a lack of sleep; isolation from one’s social circle; and a lack of hearing or vision.
When an individual faces hallucinations or delusions, try to soothe them first and stay close to them at such times to keep an eye on them. Try to listen to what they have to say and make them feel relaxed. At such times, do not argue or shout at them since it can cause them greater stress. When they ask you questions pertaining to the hallucination, respond honestly and in a calm manner. Use kind, gentle words and try to hold their hands or use some other gesture to comfort them. You can also find ways to distract the individual or play soft music.