People with dementia frequently make mistakes in judgment and understanding. They begin to have communication problems as use of language becomes more difficult. People with dementia also have high levels of confusion about the world we live in. Combine all these factors, and situations are ripe for misinterpretation. Besides hallucinations and delusions, there can be alternate interpretations for the situations below:
If you find yourself in a situation like the ones above, stay calm, so you can think things through. Your calm and reassuring manner will go a long way in helping your loved one remain calm as well. Take time to observe and listen to discover all the facts.
It may be time for an appointment with your loved one’s physician to determine whether those types of statements are due to hallucinations, delusions or simply confusion. Review all medications with the physician for possible adverse side effects. Be aware that antipsychotic medications used to address hallucinations and delusions may have potentially serious effects in people with dementia and should be used with caution.
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Deborah Bier, PhD, has a master's in counseling psychology and a doctorate in therapeutic counseling. In addition, Debbie has obtained the following credentials: