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5 Reasons for Hallucinations in Seniors Who Have Dementia

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The brain is responsible for translating the information received through the five senses. Dementia alters the translation center of the brain, making it difficult to interpret basic sensory stimuli and resulting in hallucinations. In addition to the progressive effects of dementia, common and sometimes reversible factors can trigger or exacerbate hallucinations in seniors with dementia.

Hallucinations and delusions are both common in individuals with dementia. However, they’re quite different phenomena. Hallucinations involve a false sensory experience, such as seeing bugs on a wall when there are none. Delusions, on the other hand, are false beliefs that aren’t supported in reality, such as seniors believing caregivers are stealing from them when it isn’t true. Below are some of the most common causes of dementia-related hallucinations.

1. Dehydration

Seniors with dementia are at risk for dehydration because the brain fails to recognize the sensation of thirst. As the body’s fluids becomes more depleted, blood volume and blood pressure start to drop. This process causes the body, including the brain, to become starved for oxygen, which can lead to confusion and hallucinations. You can prevent dehydration by providing your senior loved one with opportunities and verbal reminders to drink throughout the day.

2. Urinary Tract Infections

Most people associate urinary tract infections (UTIs) with painful urination, abdominal or lower back pain, fever, chills, and urinary frequency and urgency. Because the body’s immune system changes with age, older adults often don’t experience these typical UTI symptoms. An older adult with a urinary tract infection, especially one with dementia, may exhibit increased confusion, agitation, and even hallucinations. You should consult a doctor immediately if you notice changes in your loved one’s urinary habits or sudden changes in his or her mental state.

If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care services families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

3. Sundowning

Sundowning is a neurological phenomenon common in seniors with dementia, and it’s characterized by increased confusion, restlessness, and agitation. It’s most often seen in individuals with Alzheimer’s, but it can occur with other forms of dementia. The name refers to the fact that the symptoms tend to worsen in the late afternoon and evening. Altering the lighting to eliminate shadows, eliminating ambient sounds that could be misinterpreted, and covering mirrors may reduce some of the confusion and agitation associated with sundowning.

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be extremely challenging, and a compassionate professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support. Families looking for top-rated New Hampshire senior care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones.

4. Medications

Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, sleep aids, and antipsychotic medications commonly used to treat various dementia symptoms may trigger hallucinations in some people. Even relatively benign medications used to treat common chronic health conditions in older adults may produce side effects such as hallucinations when used in certain combinations. Keep a current list of all of your loved one’s medications and provide a copy to each healthcare provider to reduce the risk of interactions and side effects.

5. Overstimulation and Changes in Routine

Loud, chaotic environments or sudden changes in routine can overload the translation center of the brain with sensory stimuli, which can increase the chances that information will be misinterpreted. Seniors with dementia perform best and are typically happiest when provided with a calm, quiet environment and a structured routine.

If you’re looking for reliable dementia care, New Hampshire Home Care Assistance offers high-quality at-home care for seniors who are managing the challenges of cognitive decline. We offer a revolutionary program called the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), which uses mentally stimulating activities to boost cognitive health in the elderly. CTM has proven to help seniors with dementia regain a sense of pride and accomplishment and learn how to engage with others in an enjoyable way. Home Care Assistance can be your trusted partner in caregiving for your aging loved one. Contact one of our experienced Care Managers today at (603) 471-3004 to learn more about our reliable in-home care services.

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