10 ways to respond when someone is experiencing dementia hallucinations
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.
Some simple interventions
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.
Hallucinations, delusions and paranoia are symptoms of disease and not a normal part of aging. While they may seem similar, they are actually very different. Hallucinations are false sensory experiences that can be visual, auditory and/or tactile.
Symptoms of dehydration can include headaches, lethargy and hallucinations. In extreme cases, dehydration may result in death.
Common Causes of Hallucinations
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)
Cognitive distracters can include reading aloud, humming, as well as voice mastery (e.g. replying to the voices, responding only to pleasant voices, or describing hallucinations aloud).
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.
Visual hallucinations (seeing things that are not really there) are the most common type experienced by people with dementia. They can be simple (for example, seeing flashing lights) or complex (for example, seeing animals, people or strange situations).
Examples of medicines sometimes used to treat hallucinations, paranoia, and severe agitation in people who have dementia include aripiprazole, haloperidol, and risperidone.
A number of psychiatric medications such as olanzapine (Zyprexa), quetiapine (Seroquel), and haloperidol (Haldol) have all been associated with causing hallucinations, in addition to zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), ropinirole (Requip), and some seizure medications.
Medication. Various prescription medicines can occasionally cause hallucinations. Elderly people may be at particular risk. Hallucinations caused by medication can be dose-related and they usually stop when you stop taking the medicine.