Being a family caregiver for a senior with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) comes with lots of challenges and unusual situations. One of the more challenging aspects of AD are the hallucinations and delusions that can occur in the middle and late stages of the disease. They can be disconcerting and cause erratic behavior that can be hard to manage, especially since caregivers and home care providers cannot sense the same hallucination or understand the cause of the delusion. Although it may never be easy to handle hallucinations and delusions, there are some strategies that can help you to manage them.
Hallucinations versus Delusions
Hallucinations and delusions are not the same thing. A hallucination is an imagined thing that the AD patient senses, either by sight, touch, smell, taste, or hearing. Sometimes hallucinations can be of frightening things, like insects crawling on the person. Other times, they might hallucinate something from the past, such as a person or event.
A delusion is when the person with AD believes something that is not true. For example, they may believe that someone is stealing from them or that they are being followed. They can be especially hard for caregivers and family members if the person accuses them of wrongdoing. If that happens, its important to remember that you cannot rationalize with the person and the delusion is not personalit is a symptom of the disease.
There are several things that family caregivers and home care providers can do to manage hallucinations and delusions. Here are a few strategies that may help:
- Remain calm and speak in a reassuring manner. Tell the senior you’re there to help and won’t let anything harm them.
- Avoid reasoning with them. Doing so may upset them because you don’t believe them.
- Don’t pretend to see or hear the hallucination. The senior may become even more agitated.
- Look for things in the environment that could be feeding into the hallucination or delusion. If the room is dimly lit, turn on more lights. Turn off the television or radio. Covering mirrors might help if the person thinks they are being watched.
- Use distractions to take the seniors mind off what they are sensing or feeling. Suggest going for a walk, move to another room, or offer a favorite snack.
- Don’t demean the senior by saying things like, You’re just seeing things. The experience is real to them.
If the older adult in your life suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and you need help with caregiving duties, hiring a home care provider through an agency can help. A home care provider can take care of the senior while you attend to other things, like work, spending time with other family members, or just taking a break. Home care providers can keep the senior safe and help with things around the house, such as light house cleaning and preparing meals.
If you or an aging loved one are considering home care services in Woodbury, MN, and the surrounding areas, please contact the friendly staff at CareBuilders at Home Minnesota. Call today 612-260-2273.