10 ways to respond when someone is experiencing dementia hallucinations
Some simple interventions
Dementia is the most common cause of visual hallucinations in older adults,10 and they can occur with dementia of any etiology. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, and approximately 18% of patients with Alzheimer’s disease experience visual hallucinations.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Nuplazid (pimavanserin) tablets, the first drug approved to treat hallucinations and delusions associated with psychosis experienced by some people with Parkinson’s disease.
Hallucinations are caused by changes in the brain which, if they occur at all, usually happen in the middle or later stages of the dementia journey. Hallucinations are more common in dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s dementia but they can also occur in Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.
Dementia can cause hallucinations Dementia causes changes in the brain that may cause someone to hallucinate – see, hear, feel, or taste something that isn’t there. Their brain is distorting or misinterpreting the senses. And even if it’s not real, the hallucination is very real to the person experiencing it.
There are many causes of hallucinations, including: Being drunk or high, or coming down from such drugs like marijuana, LSD, cocaine (including crack), PCP, amphetamines, heroin, ketamine, and alcohol. Delirium or dementia (visual hallucinations are most common)
Recovery from hallucinations depends on the cause. If you’re not sleeping enough or you’re drinking too much, these behaviors can be adjusted. If your condition is caused by a mental illness, like schizophrenia, taking the right medications can improve your hallucinations significantly.
Symptoms of dehydration can include headaches, lethargy and hallucinations. In extreme cases, dehydration may result in death.
Common Causes of Hallucinations
If there is no underlying medical condition, changes to lifestyle may lessen the frequency of hallucinations. Getting enough sleep and avoiding drugs and alcohol can reduce their frequency. If hypnagogic hallucinations cause disrupted sleep or anxiety, a doctor might prescribe medication.
Examples of medicines sometimes used to treat hallucinations, paranoia, and severe agitation in people who have dementia include aripiprazole, haloperidol, and risperidone.
Antipsychotic Medications. Antipsychotic medications can reduce or relieve symptoms of psychosis, such as delusions (false beliefs) and hallucinations (seeing or hearing something that is not there).
They often last for several minutes and happen often. Hallucinations can be extremely distressing, and can lead to the person with dementia becoming frightened and in need of support. However, some people find the hallucinations pleasant or comforting.
Top 5 Tips for Managing Hallucinations and Delusions