Alzheimer’s Caregiving Tip – Hallucinations, Delusions, and Paranoia

The national Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center recently releases a series of caregiver “tip sheets” designed to give quick, helpful suggestions for common challenges faced when caring for persons with Alzheimer’s disease.

Here are helpful tips on responding to hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. Click here for more tips from the ADEAR.

Hallucinations and Delusions:

  • Tell the doctor or Alzheimer’s disease specialist about the hallucinations or delusions.
  • Discuss with the doctor any illnesses the person with Alzheimer’s has and medicines he or she is taking. Sometimes an illness or medicine may cause hallucinations or delusions.
  • Try not to argue with the person about what he or she sees or hears. Comfort the person if he or she is afraid.
  • Distract the person. Sometimes moving to another room or going outside for a walk helps.
  • Turn off the TV when violent or upsetting programs are on. Someone with Alzheimer’s may think these events are happening in the room.
  • Make sure the person is safe and can’t reach anything that could be used to hurt anyone or him or herself.

Paranoia

  • Try not to react if the person blames you for something.
  • Don’t argue with the person.
  • Let the person know that he or she is safe.
  • Use gentle touching or hugging to show you care.
  • Search for things to distract the person, then talk about what you found. For example, talk about a photograph or keepsake.

Click here to download the complete tip sheet.

9 Responses to “Alzheimer’s Caregiving Tip – Hallucinations, Delusions, and Paranoia”

  1. Does a person with dementia but doesn’t have alzheimer’s experience delusions, hallucinations or paranoia?

  2. Hello Edith. Yes, it is possible for a resident with other forms of dementia to experience this symptoms.

  3. It is critical to differentiate between Hallucinations and Delusions from Agnosia.

  4. Interesting point, Henry. Would you care to share more info on that?

  5. Agnosia, is a Neuropsychological Disorder that is characterized by the progressive decline in the individuals ability to make associations between what our senses are telling us and what is reality.

    In the mid to late stages of Dementia, people lose their ability to recognize common objects such as people, sounds or places. Dementia destroys the retrieval mechanism necessary to make the association.

    Visual Agnosia is the most common and is often misinterpreted as a hallucination. An example of this would be the person who claims their is an old women following her into the bathroom when in fact, she is looking at her own reflection.

    To often, physicians prescribe anti-psychotic medications thinking they are treating hallucinations. These medications then go on to cause negative side effects causing more problems. Falls are the number one culprit!

    The alternative is to see it for what it is and use Behavioral Interventions. This starts with educating the care giver and helping them to understand that medications should only be used as a last resort. Simply covering the mirror and redirecting the person is often all that is needed.

  6. Thank you so much, Henry. Great info for all of us!

  7. You are very welcome! Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

    Reed

  8. The information in this article is very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Great information! Not reacting too much and not arguing when the person blames you is something to be remembered.

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