For individuals caring for a senior struggling with Alzheimer’s disease or another kind of dementia, a number of complicated effects need to be very carefully handled, but possibly the most difficult of dementia symptoms to handle are the hallucinations and the illusions, and the suspicions that other individuals are out to cause injury or harm. Incorrect perceptions such as these happen most commonly in the late stages of progressive dementia due to changes within the brain. It’s essential to first understand the reason behind these emotions and behaviors, and to address the underlying cause.
Causes for hallucinations may be the result of a general confusion, a medicine side effect or an infection. Talk to the health care provider to rule out medication side effects or infections, but also pay attention to the person’s environment.
- If the person complains about hearing someone talking: Is a TV or radio on nearby that could be causing the issue?
- If the person believes he or she is always being watched: Try pulling the drapes closed over the windows.
- If the individual sees insects moving across the table: Is there a patterned tablecloth that may be triggering the perception?
When illusions do occur, don’t debate about whether or not they are real, but instead evaluate the circumstance, assure the individual in a serene voice and change the person’s environment as necessary or respond to the individual’s feelings.
- “I do not see any bugs on the table, but you seem anxious, so let’s go into the living room until they can be gotten rid of.”
- “You believe you saw a person in that side of the room? Let’s turn the light on over there so we can see more clearly. Would that help you feel more at ease?”
A person with dementia might accuse other people of stealing things, of unacceptable behavior or of betrayal. This may possibly be due to a general confusion or memory loss, but might also be a way for the person to express anxiety.
How to respond:
- Take “no” out of your vocabulary. Don’t disagree, become offended or try to persuade the senior otherwise.
- Reassure him/her, permitting him or her to share feelings.
- Try and come up with a simple answer to the complaint.
- Redirect, such as by distracting the individual with another activity.
- Respond to the requirement instead of the words.
- Obtain duplicates of regularly lost objects, for instance a purse or wallet. If one is lost, the alternate can be given to the person.
It is no doubt that providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can be complicated at times. It’s critical to depend on the support of others for guidance, resources and respite from the everyday responsibilities. Call on the San Jose in home care experts at Visiting Angels to provide top notch caregivers who are specially trained in the art of patient, innovative dementia care strategies to ensure your loved one is safe, comfortable and living life to the fullest. Contact us online or call us at 408-610-9996.