10 ways to respond when someone is experiencing dementia hallucinations
Remain calm, and try to help the person:
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.
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)
Symptoms of dehydration can include headaches, lethargy and hallucinations. In extreme cases, dehydration may result in death.
Common Causes of Hallucinations
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.
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.
Top 5 Tips for Managing Hallucinations and Delusions
See the doctor.
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).