Living with Alzheimer’s Disease: Understanding Hallucinations and Delusions

Living with Alzheimer’s Disease: Understanding Hallucinations and Delusions

As your loved one’s Alzheimer’s disease progresses, they might have difficulty determining what’s real and what’s not since they start to develop paranoia and hallucinations. This is especially true in the later stages of the disease. These, however, could be quite terrifying and easily induce anxiety. For instance, it’s relatively common for an individual to think that someone’s out there to hurt them — even if that someone is a loved one. Your response to your loved one’s symptoms would depend on the severity of the situation and how they’re responding to it.

Is it a Hallucination or Delusion?

It’s best to understand that hallucinations are different from delusions. How? Their symptoms have different effects on your loved one and those they live with, explains and other Alzheimer’s care specialists from leading assisted living communities.

Hallucinations are false perceptions. When your loved one is hallucinating, they could literally see, feel, hear, taste, or smell something that’s not actually there. For example, your loved one might speak and see someone who already passed away, smells something they loved when they were younger, or see a different scenery than what’s actually outside the window.

Delusions, on the other hand, are essentially false beliefs that are influenced by misinterpretations or misunderstandings. For example, your loved one might accuse you of plotting something sinister against them, or think that someone’s watching their every move.

Getting Help

When dealing with a loved one experiencing hallucinations or delusions due to Alzheimer’s disease, check their reaction. If they don’t seem to be bothered by it, then monitor them and don’t speak about it. If your loved one seems to be frightened of the hallucinations or delusions and is reacting by running away, being angry, or confronting people, however, you should consult a doctor. They might need antipsychotics or antidepressants to control their symptoms. This is especially crucial if your loved one lives alone, as they might be a danger to themselves and may need a more secure living arrangement.

Above all else, keep in mind that you should never take your loved one’s hallucinations or delusions to heart because you know that it’s due to their Alzheimer’s disease.

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