For relatives and patients alike, dementia is difficult to cope with. A chronic disorder caused by brain injury or disease, dementia can have a dramatic impact on how a person sees and interprets the world around them.
One common type of dementia is called Lewy Body dementia. This specific disorder can often result in confusing hallucinations and delusions. While in the beginning stages, a person may be able to understand what they’re experiencing is a side effect of their illness; it can be more challenging to determine what is real the further the illness develops.
How can you help your loved one with Lewy Body dementia?
Hallucinations are defined as experiences felt by the senses that are not real. Contrary to popular belief, the word hallucination does not just refer to visual phenomenon. Hallucinations can include tastes, sensations, sounds, and smells. Hallucinations are often a symptom of dementia; however, it’s important to note that hallucinations can also result from other medical problems.
Therefore, consult with a medical professional to understand why your aging loved one is experiencing hallucinations. A neuropsychiatric hospital may be able to help determine what symptoms are caused by your loved one’s mental illness and what is caused by a medical illness.
Other steps you can take to help your loved one if they are experiencing hallucinations include:
- Reassuring, Responding, Refocusing. Instead of correcting your loved one’s experiences, respond to their fears respectfully while still being truthful. For instance, if you don’t see or hear anyone that they see or hear, tell them this while still being understanding of their feelings.
- Analyze the context of the hallucination. Hallucinations may sometimes be the cause of stressors or a person’s environment. Consider keeping a journal to record where and when your loved one experienced a hallucination. By understanding the greater context of the hallucination — what events happened recently that day or that week, what anxieties they’ve felt — you may be able to better understand your loved one’s fears or how to react to their delusions.
- Address the hallucinations. Addressing your loved one’s hallucinations directly will not cause them to worsen, but instead will give them greater comfort. Help distract your loved one with activities they can focus on and provide them with solutions to delusionary problems.
For instance, if your loved one feels paranoid, help them with their curtains so they feel less watched. Additionally, hallucinations may sometimes be the result of a loss of hearing or eyesight. Be sure to consult with your loved one’s doctor during a neuropsychiatric evaluation in order to determine if these episodes are being caused by something other than their dementia.
Around the world, a person is diagnosed with dementia every four seconds. While dementia may be difficult to cope with, you can be sure that your loved one is cared for at compassionate neuropsychiatric hospitals. Whether it’s a short term or long term psychiatric stay, you’ll know your loved one is in quality and experienced hands.