To answer this question, we first need to understand the difference between a hallucination and a delusion.
Hallucinations are sensory experiences, which can only be verified by the person experiencing them. Delusions are beliefs that, despite all evidence to the contrary, remain fixed in the person’s mind.
Yes…dementia can cause either one. So, however, can drug side-effects.
If your loved one seems to be experiencing hallucinations or delusions, it’s relatively easy to find out if they’re being caused by drug interactions. You can research it on the web, of course…or you can just call the doctor. If you believe that drugs are the culprit, you’ll need to speak with the doctor about discontinuing use, or switching drugs. She’ll most likely tell you to taper off slowly.
If the hallucinations or delusions are related to your loved one’s dementia, that, of course, is a different story. Some patients experience both. Some experience one or the other. And others experience neither. If the hallucinations don’t upset your loved one, then most doctors will tell you that valuation can be an important tactic. For example, if your loved one thinks he sees or hears someone who isn’t really there, ask what his friends’ names are.
The situation becomes more complex if these events are causing distress in the patient, for example, if the patient believes that someone is trying to break into the house, or to kill them. In cases like this, you may have to tell what doctors call a “therapeutic fib” – you can say you called the police and they took the intruder away. This approach won’t work forever, though. If the disturbing hallucinations continue, it’s time for medical intervention.
If you’ve got questions about dealing with a loved one’s dementia, we’ve got answers. At The Law Offices of Alice Reiter Feld & Associates, we have one of the largest dementia resource libraries in South Florida.
We practice Elder Law – and only Elder Law. And, over the past 33 years, we’ve walked thousands of South Florida families through the Dementia Maze. In addition, we’ve helped them draw up comprehensive estate plans, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, long-term care plans, asset protection plans, and with issues relating to the VA or Medicaid.
We can walk your family through the Dementia Maze. And we’re only a phone call away.
Are Hallucinations And Delusions Part Of Dementia?