Oftentimes, dementia hallucinations can be triggered by things going on around your older adult. Their dementia brain can interpret sights and sounds differently, causing hallucinations. To remove possible triggers, check their environment for background noise or visual stimulation that could cause a problem.
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 may cause a person to have hallucinations. This is most common in people living with dementia with Lewy bodies, although other types of dementia may also cause hallucinations.
Delusions (firmly held beliefs in things that are not real) may occur in middle- to late-stage Alzheimer’s. Confusion and memory loss — such as the inability to remember certain people or objects — can contribute to these untrue beliefs.
Causes. Hallucinations are experienced by people with dementia largely due to changes in the brain caused by the disease. This may be compounded by memory loss and other cognitive issues typical of dementia, such as the inability to remember certain objects or to recognize faces.
Remain calm, and try to help the person:
Experts suggest that signs of the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease include some of the following:
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.
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In the earlier stages, memory loss and confusion may be mild. The person with dementia may be aware of — and frustrated by — the changes taking place, such as difficulty recalling recent events, making decisions or processing what was said by others.
Dementia is a progressive condition, meaning that it gets worse over time. The speed of deterioration differs between individuals. Age, general health and the underlying disease causing brain damage will all affect the pattern of progression. However, for some people the decline can be sudden and rapid.
Hearing voices when no one has spoken (the most common type of hallucination). These voices may be positive, negative, or neutral. They may command someone to do something that may cause harm to themselves or others.
It can be helpful to think of dementia progressing in three stages – early, middle and late. These are sometimes called mild, moderate and severe, because this describes how much the symptoms affect a person.