As your loved one’s primary caregiver, dementia hallucinations are often one of your worst fears. It’s equally frustrating and heart breaking to watch your loved one experience anxiety around external stimuli that aren’t there. We understand this experience and want to help.
Although each of your loved one’s needs are unique, we want to share common tips our Home Instead Care Pros find successful in managing dementia hallucinations. Without any further introduction, let’s dive in to try and keep your loved one as relaxed as possible.
What are dementia hallucinations?
First things first, let's break down what dementia hallucinations actually are. Dementia hallucinations are sensory experiences that seem real to the person experiencing them, but are not based on external stimuli. These hallucinations can involve seeing, hearing, smelling, or even feeling things that aren't there. It's crucial to understand that these hallucinations are a symptom of the dementia itself and are not deliberate actions by your loved one.
I understand what dementia hallucinations are, but how do they affect my loved one?
Dementia hallucinations can have a huge impact on your loved one's well-being. They may see or hear people who aren't present, which can be confusing and frightening. For instance, your mother might believe she is talking to her long-lost sister or hearing voices that criticize or threaten her. These experiences can lead to heightened anxiety, fear, and agitation.
Imagine for a moment how disorienting it must be to live in a world where the lines between reality and imagination blur. It's an incredibly lonely and bewildering place. Your loved one may lose trust in their surroundings and the people close to them, which is a really scary feeling as their family member and most compassionate caregiver.
My loved one is actively experiencing a hallucination… What should I do?
Here at Home Instead, we understand how pivotal your role as a trusted caregiver is in helping your loved one navigate dementia hallucinations. Here are some coping strategies our Care Pros have had success implementing:
Immediately, you need to remain calm, reassuring, and validate any of the experiences your loved one is having. When a hallucination occurs, start by speaking in a soothing tone. Reassure them that you're there to protect and support them without dismissing their current state.
Next, try to gently redirect their attention to something else. You might say, "Let's look at these old photos together," or "How about we enjoy a cup of tea?". Whatever your loved one enjoys doing, prompt them to engage in that without coming off as demanding.
How do I help preemptively manage the hallucinations?
The best way to try and fight off hallucinations well in advance is through a consistent routine and warm environment. If your loved one seems triggered by something in your home, remove it and anything that seems to fall under the same category. Our Care Pros always recommend warm lighting and eliminating reflective surfaces. This helps create a bright space free from shadows or reflections that might cause confusion.
When should I consult my loved one’s health care professionals?
If you feel as if you’ve done all you can to combat the hallucinations, your loved one’s health care professional is a great resource to turn to. Start by scheduling a dedicated appointment to discuss your concerns. Be honest and clear about the hallucinations your loved one is experiencing, providing details on frequency and intensity. Bring a list of medications, medical history, and any recent changes in behavior.
Most importantly, ask questions about potential causes, treatment options, and support resources. Remember, open communication with your healthcare provider ensures the best possible care for your loved one's well-being.
We understand managing dementia hallucinations can take a toll on both your mental and physical health as a caregiver. If you are in need of any additional advice or assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Home Instead with any of your questions. After all, we all want to support your loved one as best as we can.