When an older adult talks about seeing something that isn’t there, it can be disconcerting for family caregivers. This is especially true if the senior is frightened by what they see. However, hallucinations are not confined to just seeing things that aren’t present. Knowing the kinds of hallucinations that can happen and some of the possible causes can make them a little less difficult to deal with.
Kinds of Hallucinations
Hallucinations can affect any of the senses. Kinds of hallucinations include:
Visual: A visual hallucination involves seeing objects, animals, or people that aren’t there. For example, the older adult might see a relative who has passed or an animal scurrying about the room.
Auditory: These happen when the person hears sounds that don’t have a source. They may perceive them inside their minds or think they are coming from the room around them.
Olfactory: Olfactory hallucinations occur when the senior smells something that others do not.
Gustatory: A gustatory hallucination is when the person tastes something. For example, they might think that something they eat or drink tastes odd.
Tactile: This kind of hallucination is when the person feels like something is touching them. They might have a sensation of being tickled or something crawling on them.
There are several conditions that can cause older adults to hallucinate. Some of them are:
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
- Brain tumor.
Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease are two of the more common causes of hallucinations in older adults. Although most people associate Parkinson’s with its physical symptoms, about half of all people with the disease experience visual hallucinations. Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia often cause hallucinations when the person is in advanced stages.
Responding to Hallucinations
The key to helping your aging relative through a hallucination is to remain calm. In some cases, you may not even need to respond. If what the person is experiencing isn’t bothering them, or is even pleasant, it may be best to ignore it. However, when the hallucination is frightening or bothersome, try some of these tips:
Reassure: Be supportive and respond in an encouraging manner. For example, you might say, “It’s okay. I’m here to help you and I’ll keep you safe.” Gently touching the person offers extra reassurance and can redirect their attention.
Distract: Try turning the senior’s attention to an activity they enjoy. Perhaps offer a snack or turn on some music.
Modify: Sometimes things in the environment trigger hallucinations. Adjust lighting to reduce shadows, cover mirrors, and turn off sounds that they may be misinterpreting, like the television or radio.
Home care can help seniors when they experience hallucinations. Because home care agencies try to match their staff with the individual’s needs, your older relative’s home care provider is likely to be familiar with their condition and will know the proper way to respond to a hallucination. A home care provider can remind them that they are safe. Home care can also use distractions like snacks, games, or a walk.
If you or a family member are in need of Home Health Care in Boca Raton, FL, call the caring professionals at Star Multi Care today at (954) 870-4770.
Providing service in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Weston, Southwest Ranches, Pembroke Pines, Cooper City, Lighthouse Point, and Wilton Manors.