Elderly Hallucinations: The Causes and How to Deal With It (2023)

Hallucinating is like dreaming. But contrary to dreams, hallucinations occur even when your eyes are wide open.

Hallucinations are characterized by false perceptions and events involving basic senses. A person experiencing this can perceive something to be there that is not.

An elderly person experiencing hallucinations can often feel agitated and frightened.

Hence, they should not be left alone. Family caregivers or members can accompany the elderly to provide comfort!

Types of Hallucinations

Hallucinations appear as abnormal perceptions among the senses of affected individuals.

Hence, it also comes in different forms:

  • Auditory hallucination – The older adult patient may hear someone talking, inaudible sounds, or music playing. They can also hear tapping sounds or steps on the floor.
  • Olfactory hallucination – Patients can experience sensitivity to the sense of smell. It can range from pleasant to pungent odors.
  • Gustatory hallucination – This type of hallucination involves the sense of taste. In this case, the person can taste things that are not there. This is most common among epileptic patients.
  • Tactile hallucination The elderly experiencing this can perceive things through touch. There are times when they can feel insects crawling all over them.

However, the MOST VISUAL type of hallucinations experienced by older adults is visual hallucinations.

Visual Hallucinations

Visual hallucinations are characterized by seeing NON-EXISTENT objects, people, animals, and the like.

This phenomenon can occur due to a series of medical and neurological reasons.

Visual hallucinations can be classified into 2:

  • Simple
  • Complex

Simple visual hallucinations can involve seeing light flashes, lines, and patterns.

This may occur due to ocular impairments and other health conditions, like macular degeneration, migraine, seizures, tumors, and lesions.

On the other hand, complex hallucinations involve events, groups of people, animals, and scenery.

Several reasons can cause these, including:

  • Delirium
  • Dementia
  • Charles Bonnet Syndrome
  • Hypnopompic hallucinations
  • Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

What Causes Sudden Hallucinations in the Elderly?

Elderly Hallucinations: The Causes and How to Deal With It (1)

Different conditions can cause sudden hallucinations in the elderly person. But there are common reasons identified by experts that lead to hallucinations.

These risk factors include:

  • Dehydration
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Kidney or liver failure
  • Brain tumors or cancer
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Anesthesia after surgery
  • Mental illness (like schizophrenia and bipolar disorders)
  • Other health conditions (Charles Bonnet Syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, and the like.)

Visual Causes

The most common visual cause of hallucinations is Charles Bonnet syndrome.

Despite its commonality, the Charles Bonnet Syndrome remains underrecognized.

The patient can vividly describe hallucinations that occur under this condition.

How it happens is still uncertain. But, experts relate such a condition with the phantom limb sensation.

Neurological Causes

Migraines and seizures are the typical neurological causes of hallucinations in older adults.

Patients who experience such conditions often report having elemental hallucinations. This is where they see random lines, shapes, and colors.

Older adults who suffer from temporal lobe seizures may experience complex visual hallucinations where they see people and animals.

After Surgery

Hallucinations likely happen after a surgical procedure. It usually lasts for a few hours or days and eventually goes away.

Anesthetic drugs used during the surgery can cause a person to hallucinate. This is especially true when a person receives high doses of anesthesia.

That’s why it is also likely for people undergoing major surgical treatments to hallucinate.

Pain killers and other medications prescribed after surgery can also result in hallucinations among elderly patients.


Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is an infection affecting the urethra, ureters, bladder, and kidney.

Common accompanying symptoms include urine discoloration, incontinence, and painful urination.

(Video) Dementia Caregiving Hallucinations or Delusions

However, among older adults, symptoms can be much worse. It can have psychological effects, including visual hallucinations.

This possibly happens when the bacteria reach the upper urinary tract (bladder and kidney).

The infection consequently spreads through the bloodstream and affects the brain.

The elderly person is susceptible to such infection because the blood vessels in their brain tend to be weaker.


Dementia is one of the most common causes of visual hallucinations among elderly patients.

Alzheimer’s disease-induced dementia causes visual hallucinations among patients. Around 18% of the elderly with this disease were reported to have experienced hallucinations.

Hallucinations occur in patients having dementia with Lewy bodies too.

Over 80% of patients were said to have complex visual hallucinations accompanying such a condition. And it usually lasts for days or months.

While Sleeping

There could be many reasons why hallucinations occur when a person is sleeping.

Typically, this phenomenon is caused by sleeping disorders or parasomnias.

Parasomnias are characterized by displeasing physical experiences that occur as a person enters sleep, while sleeping, or within sleep arousal.

Among older adults, hallucinations appear during sleep paralysis. It is also connected to Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder.

Sleep Paralysis and Hallucination

Sleep paralysis is the inability to move or speak during the onset of sleep or a few seconds or minutes after waking.

In these cases, the person experience suffocation or a heavy on the chest.

It is also common for an individual to have vivid auditory, visual, and tactile hallucinations during sleep paralysis.

Sleep deprivation and irregular sleeping patterns are a few causes of sleep paralysis.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is a condition where the person physically acts out their dreams and nightmares through sounds, voices, and leg or arm movements.

This disorder can be classified into two forms: idiopathic and secondary.

Older adults who experience idiopathic RBD are later diagnosed with neurodegenerative conditions, including Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.

Among older adult patients with idiopathic RBD, hallucinations appear mostly in those diagnosed with dementia with Lewy bodies in a few months or years.

Few of the primary symptoms seen among them include:

  • Acute episodes of hallucinations, agitation, and delirium after elective surgery
  • Subacute episodes of visual hallucinations and delusions
  • Isolated visual hallucinations like seeing bugs running around


Alcohol abuse and the use of illicit drugs cause hallucinations.

However, prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications can also cause vivid visual hallucinations among elderly patients.

Most medications that would result in hallucination are over-the-counter medications like anticholinergic and dopaminergic agents, which include dopamine agonists and levodopa.

Other commonly used drugs that could cause hallucinations in the elderly are:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Opioids
  • Antibiotics

Drug-to-drug reactions can also cause visual hallucinations. The number of medications the older adult takes might result in adverse reactions like a hallucination.

9 Medical Conditions That Can Cause Hallucinations in the Elderly

Elderly Hallucinations: The Causes and How to Deal With It (2)

Hallucinations can happen due to a number of reasons.

In most cases, hallucinations are associated with several medical conditions among older adults.

It can result from mental disorders or conditions affecting the nervous system.

Here are a few health-related issues that can cause the elderly to hallucinate:

(Video) Visual Hallucinations & Dementia: Causes & What To Do

1. Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder involving the abnormal interpretation of reality.

Patients with schizophrenia can experience several symptoms, including delusions, disoriented thinking and behavior, and hallucinations.

Auditory hallucinations are the most common type experienced by patients with schizophrenia.

They can hear sounds and voices similar to the experiences of psychologically normal people.

Among schizophrenic individuals, over 60-80% are experiencing auditory hallucinations. On the other hand, 25-50% of patients have visual hallucinations.

2. Delirium

Delirium involves the disturbance of the mental capabilities and cognition of older adults.

As a result, patients experience a reduced sense of awareness of their environment, changes in behavior and way of thinking, and emotional disturbances.

Additionally, the elderly who suffer from delirium can also experience auditory and visual hallucinations. This is most common among patients who have hyperactive delirium.

Delirium can be a result of certain underlying medical conditions. However, it can also be a result of substance withdrawal.

The severe withdrawal from alcohol is called delirium tremens.

3. Dementia with Lewy Bodies

Lewy body dementia is the SECOND MOST COMMON degenerative dementia following Alzheimer’s disease.

It is characterized by cognitive impairment, accompanied by reduced alertness, parkinsonism, symptoms similar to a few psychiatric disorders, and frequent hallucinations.

Over 80% of older patients with dementia with Lewy bodies are experiencing complex visual hallucinations.

These vivid false perceptions can last for a few days or even months.

4. Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a psychological disorder characterized by involuntary bodily movement. This may include:

  • Shaking
  • Stiffness
  • Poor motor coordination and balance

Hallucinations among the elderly with this disease occur due to medication. This is not typically a sign of a person suffering from a psychotic disorder.

Patients with this disease commonly experience visual hallucinations in DIM LIGHT areas.

These can be seen in the peripheral vision as light flashes or shadows, people, and animals.

Some people have retained insights while they experience hallucinations. This means that they are aware that what they’re seeing or hearing is NOT REAL.

However, as the disease progresses, patients lose such insights.

5. Charles Bonnet Syndrome

Charles Bonnet Syndrome is another common cause of complex visual hallucinations in the elderly.

Hallucination, in this case, is characterized by vivid and elaborate visual hallucinations among persons with visual impairment.

Among patients with visual impairment, 10-15% were reported to have Charles Bonnet’s Syndrome.

It is believed that this syndrome is common among the elderly because there is a large portion of visually impaired individuals in this population.

Typical conditions that cause the Charles Bonnet Syndrome are eye disease, including macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataract.

Charles Bonnet hallucinations can involve vivid images of people, animals, sceneries, and events.

Although Charles Bonnet Syndrome is common in individuals with visual impairment, it can also occur among 3.15% of psychogeriatric patients diagnosed by general practitioners.

6. Seizures

When a patient experience a seizure, their cerebral subsystem is affected.

This, in turn, causes varied symptoms, including illusions, delusions, and hallucinations.

Seizures can cause the elderly to have complex auditory and visual hallucinations. It can also result in hallucinatory emotional states or visuospatial hallucinations.

(Video) What Are Common Causes of Hallucinations in the Elderly

7. Migraines

A migraine is a neurological condition resulting in throbbing pain, numbness, and visual changes.

In the case of patients with migraine, hallucinations can be rare.

However, visual hallucinations can occur among patients with basilar or hemiplegic migraine.

A person with hemiplegic migraine can have visual hallucinations later in the migraine attack. This lasts within a few hours or days.

Visual hallucinations can happen during migraine attacks because the visual cortex is activated. Nerve cells can also be damaged in the long run.

Auditory and olfactory hallucinations can also occur with migraine.

An altered or sensitive sense of smell is actually common among patients with migraine. It affects bout 95% of people having this condition.

8. Drug Effects

Abuse of alcohol and recreational drugs can also stimulate visual hallucinations among the elderly.

Such instances could be less common in older adults than in younger people. However, this can still happen at home or in care facilities.

Illicit drugs that are known to cause visual hallucinations include:

  • cocaine
  • cannabis
  • phencyclidine
  • hallucinogens
  • amphetamines

9. Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by character changes, visual impairment, and rapid deterioration of cognitive functioning.

It can also show the rapid progression of dementia.

Hence, visual hallucinations can also occur among patients suffering from this disease.

This disease causes death among 90% of patients after a year.

Can Dehydration Cause Hallucinations in the Elderly?

To shortly answer your question, yes, dehydration can sometimes cause elderlies to hallucinate.

This likely happens when dehydration is prolonged.

Dehydration can happen when the body does not receive enough amounts of fluids.

This most commonly occurs in extremely hot weather or during intensive physical exercise.

Among the elderly, symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Lethargy
  • Headaches
  • Hallucinations

On the other hand, complications of prolonged dehydration may include:

  • Confusion
  • Delirium
  • Seizures
  • Kidney failure
  • Swelling of the brain

Is It Common for the Elderly to Hallucinate?

Hallucinations can occur due to various reasons.

It can due to underlying medical conditions, medications, or lifestyle.

Due to the elderly’s old age, they are likely to be susceptible to diseases and conditions that could cause hallucinations.

Certain diseases can affect the cognitive function of the elderly and cause them to experience hallucinations.

Treatment for Elderlies With Hallucinations

Elderly Hallucinations: The Causes and How to Deal With It (3)

Given that various reasons cause hallucinations, proper diagnosis before treatments is given utmost importance.

Before treatment is determined and administered, assessments can be done by your healthcare providers.

The things that they assess and observe include:

  • Mental health issues
  • Retention insight during a hallucination
  • Cognitive decline and personality changes
  • Medical, psychological, and neurologic history
  • Recent medical conditions and changes in medication
  • State of the patient when experiencing hallucinations
  • Accidents that can cause head injuries or head trauma
  • Time and location where the patient experiences hallucinations

After the assessments are made, a treatment plan is devised to manage hallucinations. It can either be pharmacological or non-pharmacological methods.

Pharmacological Treatment

Pharmacological treatment is necessary for patients who experience distressing hallucinations.

This can also help manage an individual who exhibits violent behavior.

(Video) Elderly Care: Managing Hallucinations

Among the elderly, medication can help in handling visual hallucinations.

However, this can’t totally eradicate hallucinations. It can only manage the emotions of the patient.

In treating visual hallucinations, neuroleptic medications are mainly used by healthcare providers.

However, seniors who have dementia with Lewy bodies can be sensitive to the side effects of neuroleptic medicine.

Antipsychotic medication can help in managing distressing hallucinations.

Non-Pharmacological Treatment

Health experts most commonly prescribe non-pharmacological treatments for managing visual hallucinations.

Such methods are ideal for the elderly to avoid potential side effects that could harm them.

Those with Charles Bonnet Syndrome or dementia do not require intensive medical care.

However, it is important to educate their families and caregivers that such conditions don’t signify a person to be mentally ill.

Non-pharmacological treatment for visually impaired patients includes removing cataracts, improving lighting, and wearing corrective lenses.

Reducing social isolation can also help patients having visual hallucinations.

This method is found to be effective among reclusive individuals.

Symptoms of Hallucinations

Oftentimes, symptoms of hallucinations can be difficult to distinguish from other psychotic symptoms.

Episodes of hallucination can also go unnoticed by people surrounding the older adult. It has to be severe for someone to recognize an episode of hallucination.

Signs that you can use to determine if the elderly are hallucinating include:

  • Hearing, seeing, smelling, or tasting non-existent things
  • Changes in personality and behavior
  • Confusion and forgetfulness
  • Social isolation

Prevalence of Hallucinations in the Elderly

There are not many clinical and neurobiological insights on the prevalence of hallucinations in the elderly.

Hence, it is unclear if elderly hallucination prevalence increases or decreases over time.

However, a study showed that literature indicated a 0.4% to 37% prevalence rate of hallucinations among the elderly.

Such numbers depend on the duration of the hallucination (month-long vs. lifetime). The prevalence rate increases as time passes.

But, more research is needed to investigate hallucinations among the elderly.

The investigation has become difficult for experts due to underreporting of cases. This is because older adults fear public stigma and ageism.

That’s why you must make the elderly feel safe sharing their experiences to encourage self-reporting of elderly hallucination cases.

Things to Do When an Elderly Hallucinates

When you spot signs of hallucinations in an older adult, call for emergency services immediately.

Doctors can perform assessments for the patient. And they can also have time to observe and monitor them closely.

Once the cause is determined, a treatment plan will be made for the patient to manage hallucinations.

Medication can be administered to calm the patient and ease agitation.

Medical practitioners can also help shift the patient’s attention from hallucination to reality.


Hallucinations among the elderly can be common. However, it can be difficult to distinguish its causes in one glance.

It is important to seek professional help to know if the hallucination results from mental health concerns, certain disorders or diseases, or whether the person is developing dementia.

It is also important to recognize such conditions among the elderly so they won’t fear public stigmatization.

(Video) Psychosis - causes, symptoms, and treatment explained

This does not only make the older adult safe and secure. But it also helps health experts to know better about the prevalence of hallucinations among the elderly.


How do you calm hallucinations in the elderly? ›

Use distractions
  1. Suggest a walk or move to another room. Frightening hallucinations often subside in well-lit areas where other people are present.
  2. Try to turn the person's attention to music, conversation or activities you enjoy together.

How can I reduce hallucinations? ›

3. Suggest coping strategies, such as:
  1. humming or singing a song several times.
  2. listening to music.
  3. reading (forwards and backwards)
  4. talking with others.
  5. exercise.
  6. ignoring the voices.
  7. medication (important to include).

What causes sudden hallucinations in elderly? ›

They are more common in people with dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson's disease dementia. People with Alzheimer's disease can also have hallucinations. Hallucinations can also be caused by physical illness including fever, seizure, stroke, migraine and infection.

How do you help an elderly delusion? ›

See the doctor.
  1. Don't take offense. Listen to what is troubling the person, and try to understand that reality. ...
  2. Don't argue or try to convince. Allow the individual to express ideas. ...
  3. Offer a simple answer. ...
  4. Switch the focus to another activity. ...
  5. Duplicate any lost items. ...
  6. Share your experience with others.

What is the most common cause of visual hallucinations in elderly? ›

Vivid visual hallucinations are common in the geriatric population and can be due to a number of causes such as dementia, delirium, stroke, adverse effects of medication, or ocular disease.

How do you talk to an elderly person with hallucinations? ›

While you are staying calm, provide reassurance to the person experiencing the hallucination. Let them know that you are there to support them. If they seem to be gaining joy from the hallucination, you might try saying something like “I see that you are happy!

What is the first line treatment for hallucinations? ›

Antipsychotics. Antipsychotic medicines are usually recommended as the first treatment for psychosis. They work by blocking the effect of dopamine, a chemical that transmits messages in the brain. However, they're not suitable or effective for everyone, as side effects can affect people differently.

What triggers hallucinations? ›

There are many causes of hallucinations, including: Being drunk or high, or coming down from such drugs like marijuana, LSD, cocaine (including crack), PCP, amphetamines, heroin, ketamine, and alcohol. Delirium or dementia (visual hallucinations are most common)

What medication is used for hallucinations in the elderly? ›

Examples of medicines sometimes used to treat hallucinations, paranoia, and severe agitation in people who have dementia include aripiprazole, haloperidol, and risperidone.

What stage of hallucinations is dementia? ›

Hallucinations are caused by changes in the brain which, if they occur at all, usually happen in the middle or later stages of the dementia journey. Hallucinations are more common in dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson's dementia but they can also occur in Alzheimer's and other types of dementia.

What is the 5 word memory test? ›

Administration: The examiner reads a list of 5 words at a rate of one per second, giving the following instructions: “This is a memory test. I am going to read a list of words that you will have to remember now and later on. Listen carefully. When I am through, tell me as many words as you can remember.

How do you respond to hallucinations? ›

Responding to Hallucinations

Speak slowly, calmly and quietly, using simple concrete language. Be patient – it may take the person longer to process information. Reduce stimuli: turn off radios, televisions, bright lights, or anything else that may cause stress.

What not to do with a delusional person? ›

Try not to take the person's accusations personally, even if they are directed at you. Let the person know that you recognise the feelings that can be evoked by the delusions. For example, you could say: 'It must feel very frightening to think that there is a conspiracy against you.

Can dehydration cause hallucinations in elderly? ›

Dehydration in an elderly person, especially after a bout of vomiting or diarrhea, can cause imbalances in important electrolytes, including potassium and sodium, which can result in hallucinations and delusions.

Can dehydration cause hallucinations? ›

Dehydration may cause psychotic symptoms

This can result in a state of hyponatremia, which can cause hallucinations or coma, which some may interpret as catatonia, reports MedlinePlus.

What is the difference between a hallucination and a delusion? ›

Therefore, a hallucination includes seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, or feeling something that isn't there. On the other hand, delusions are false beliefs despite evidence to the contrary.

How long does it take for hallucinations to go away? ›

The visual hallucinations usually start within a few days of the initial insult and resolve within a few weeks, but they may last for years. Each hallucination may last from minutes to hours, often occurring in the evening.

What is the comforting stage of hallucination? ›

Stage 1. Also referred to as the comforting stage,a person may begin to experience a sense of anxiety, loneliness or guilt that can cause them to focus obsessively on thoughts that will relieve those feelings. However, the sufferer realizes the thoughts are their own and finds that they can control them.

What to do when a family member is hallucinating? ›

The Do's and Don'ts of Helping a Family Member in Psychosis
  1. Don't panic or overreact. ...
  2. Do listen non-judgmentally. ...
  3. Don't make medication, treatment, or diagnosis the focus. ...
  4. Do speak slowly and simply. ...
  5. Don't threaten. ...
  6. Do stay positive and encourage help. ...
  7. Don't hesitate to contact a mental health professional.
May 12, 2016

When should you seek help for hallucinations? ›

A person who begins to hallucinate and is detached from reality should get checked by a health care professional right away. Many medical and mental conditions that can cause hallucinations may quickly become emergencies. The person should not be left alone.

What is the most effective therapy for hallucination? ›

CBT adapted for psychosis (CBTp) helps a person experiencing delusions (ideas that are not true) and hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that no one else hears or sees) change the way he thinks about and responds to these experiences. The goal is to make them less distressing and less impairing in day-to-day life.

Is there a pill to stop hallucinations? ›

Antipsychotic medications don't 'cure' psychosis, but they are often effective in reducing and controlling many symptoms, including: delusions and hallucinations, such as paranoia and hearing voices. anxiety and serious agitation, for example from feeling threatened. incoherent speech and muddled thinking.

What is the strongest medication for hallucinations? ›

Fluphenazine (Prolixin): This drug treats schizophrenia and psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and hostility. Haloperidol (Haldol): Doctors prescribe this drug to treat psychotic disorders, tics associated with Tourette's syndrome, and severe behavioral problems in children.

What are 3 examples of hallucinations? ›

You may have hallucinations if you:
  • hear sounds or voices that nobody else hears.
  • see things that are not there like objects, shapes, people or lights.
  • feel touch or movement in your body that is not real like bugs are crawling on your skin or your internal organs are moving around.
  • smell things that do not exist.

What are the 7 types of hallucination? ›

Some of the different types of hallucinations that exist are described below:
  • Visual hallucinations. ...
  • Auditory hallucinations. ...
  • Olfactory hallucination. ...
  • Tactile hallucination. ...
  • Gustatory hallucination. ...
  • General somatic hallucination. ...
  • Further Reading.

What do hallucinations indicate? ›

Hallucinations occur frequently in psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic disorder and borderline personality disorder, as well as in other disorders such as dementia and Parkinson's.

What does it mean when elderly hallucinate? ›

Dementia causes changes in the brain that may cause someone to hallucinate – see, hear, feel, or taste something that isn't there. Their brain is distorting or misinterpreting the senses. And even if it's not real, the hallucination is very real to the person experiencing it.

Is it normal for elderly to hallucinate? ›

Geriatric hallucinations are hallucinations experienced by the elderly. They typically occur in patients with cognitive-affective symptoms of dementia and can range from very mild to severe enough to result in hospitalization.

What is elderly psychosis? ›

Psychosis in Elderly & Dementia

Signs of psychosis in elderly persons include agitation, hallucination, slurred speech, mood swings, uncooperative behavior, agitation, and a handful of other symptoms that are easily mistaken for dementia.

What is the most common cause of death in dementia patients? ›

One of the most common causes of death for people with dementia is pneumonia caused by an infection. A person in the later stages of dementia may have symptoms that suggest that they are close to death, but can sometimes live with these symptoms for many months.

What is the 3 word memory test for seniors? ›

The Mini-Cog test.

A third test, known as the Mini-Cog, takes 2 to 4 minutes to administer and involves asking patients to recall three words after drawing a picture of a clock. If a patient shows no difficulties recalling the words, it is inferred that he or she does not have dementia.

What is the 4 hour test for dementia? ›

Neuropsychological evaluation.

This process lasts around four hours and includes a series of in-depth analyses, such as one-on-one interviews and written and oral tests. These assessments are designed to gauge specific cognitive functions, like attention, problem solving, spatial skills, and executive functioning.

What is the 5 minute test for dementia? ›

The five-minute cognitive test (FCT) was designed to capture deficits in five domains of cognitive abilities, including episodic memory, language fluency, time orientation, visuospatial function, and executive function.

What is the life expectancy of a person with dementia in their 80s? ›

The average life expectancy figures for the most common types of dementia are as follows: Alzheimer's disease – around eight to 10 years. Life expectancy is less if the person is diagnosed in their 80s or 90s. A few people with Alzheimer's live for longer, sometimes for 15 or even 20 years.

At what stage do dementia patients forget family members? ›

In stage 6 of dementia, a person may start forgetting the names of close loved ones and have little memory of recent events.

What do dementia patients think about? ›

People with dementia think about the same things that any human thinks about — emotions, relationships, daily life, tasks to accomplish, and more. Receiving a life-changing diagnosis of dementia does not strip a person of their humanity and personhood.

What is the best not to reason with people having delusions? ›

It is best not to argue with them, try to persuade them with evidence, or to laugh at them. You can help by showing them love and support, helping them to recognise what triggers their delusions, and encouraging them to seek treatment.

Should you try to reason with someone having delusions? ›

Do not reason, argue, or challenge the delusion. Attempting to disprove the delusion is not helpful and will create mistrust. Assure the person that they are safe and no harm will come. Do not leave the person alone – use openness and honesty at all times.

Does a delusional person know they are delusional? ›

A person who has experienced past delusions and no longer does (for example, due to the use of antipsychotic medication), may realize that their former belief was false, and thereby have insight into the fact that they are prone to delusions.

Does drinking water help with hallucinations? ›

People at risk of psychosis, and the general population, need to be aware that appropriate hydration is important to mental health and that being very dehydrated might be associated with hallucinations or other psychotic symptoms.

How much water should a 90 year old drink daily? ›

Again, the recommendation for older adults is to consume at least 1.7 liters/day, which corresponds to at least 57.5 fluid ounces. In the US, where a measuring cup = 8 ounces, this is equivalent to 7.1 cups/day. Keep a journal to record how much fluid your older parent is drinking.

What kind of infection can cause hallucinations? ›

The hallucinations may start before other signs that the person is unwell. They may be caused by a chest infection or urine infection, for example. Call the GP if an elderly relative, or person you know, suddenly develops hallucinations, particularly if they appear unwell in any other way.

Are hallucinations part of a stroke? ›

A stroke can sometimes lead to hallucinations or delusions, and may happen in up to one in 20 people. Some symptoms can start soon after a stroke, but they can also start weeks or months later.

What electrolyte imbalance causes hallucinations? ›

Hyponatremia can be defined as a serum sodium concentration less than 135 mEq/L. This is a known cause of neurologic symptoms, typically at levels below 120 mEq/L. Of patients with serum sodium less than 120 mEq/L, 0.5% report hallucinations [4].

What to do with someone who is hallucinating? ›

Remain calm, and try to help the person.
  1. Approach the person quietly while calling his or her name.
  2. Ask the person to tell you what is happening. ...
  3. Tell the person that he or she is having a hallucination and that you do not see or hear what he or she does. ...
  4. Talk with the person about the experience.

What to say to someone who is hallucinating? ›

could say: 'I understand that you are feeling worried now. I don't see or hear anything, but I can understand that it may be difficult, worrying or unpleasant for you'. between the hallucinations and reality. In such cases, the person can understand the conversations you are having.

What is the most common form of hallucination? ›

Hearing voices when no one has spoken (the most common type of hallucination). These voices may be positive, negative, or neutral.

What is the best medication for hallucinations in elderly? ›

Examples of medicines sometimes used to treat hallucinations, paranoia, and severe agitation in people who have dementia include aripiprazole, haloperidol, and risperidone.

How do you get rid of hallucinations naturally? ›

Here are some more practical steps to help your loved one cope with hallucinations.
  1. hum or sing a song several times.
  2. listen to music.
  3. reading (forward and backward)
  4. talk to others.
  5. exercise.
  6. ignoring voices.
  7. medication (important to include)

What causes hallucinations to worsen? ›

drugs and alcohol. Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease. a change or loss of vision, such as Charles Bonnet syndrome. anxiety, depression or bereavement.

How do you treat hallucinations without medication? ›

You may find these helpful to use instead of your medication, or alongside it:
  1. Talking therapies.
  2. Arts and creative therapies.
  3. Ecotherapy.
  4. Complementary and alternative therapies.
  5. Peer support.
  6. Look after your physical health.

Can dehydration cause hallucinations in the elderly? ›

Dehydration in an elderly person, especially after a bout of vomiting or diarrhea, can cause imbalances in important electrolytes, including potassium and sodium, which can result in hallucinations and delusions.

What is the most common hallucination? ›

[2] The most common hallucinations in schizophrenia are auditory, followed by visual. Tactile, olfactory and gustatory are reported less frequently [Table 1]. [3] Visual hallucinations in schizophrenia have a predominance of denatured people, parts of bodies, unidentifiable things and superimposed things.

How do you stop hallucinations at night? ›

How to treat sleep hallucinations?
  1. Get enough sleep.
  2. Keep a regular sleep schedule.
  3. Avoid alcohol and certain drugs and medications.
May 6, 2021

What is the best medication for hallucinations? ›

Olanzapine, amisulpride, ziprasidone, and quetiapine are equally effective against hallucinations, but haloperidol may be slightly inferior. If the drug of first choice provides inadequate improvement, it is probably best to switch medication after 2-4 weeks of treatment.

What neurological condition causes hallucinations? ›

Hallucinations most often result from:
  • Schizophrenia. More than 70% of people with this illness get visual hallucinations, and 60%-90% hear voices. ...
  • Parkinson's disease. ...
  • Alzheimer's disease. ...
  • Migraines. ...
  • Brain tumor. ...
  • Charles Bonnet syndrome. ...
  • Epilepsy.
Jul 26, 2021

What stage of dementia is hallucinations? ›

Hallucinations are caused by changes in the brain which, if they occur at all, usually happen in the middle or later stages of the dementia journey. Hallucinations are more common in dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson's dementia but they can also occur in Alzheimer's and other types of dementia.

What is an alternative for hallucination? ›

Some common synonyms of hallucination are delusion, illusion, and mirage.


1. What are Common Causes of Hallucinations in the Elderly
(Dr.Jamie Taft)
2. Alzheimer's Disease: How to Manage Hallucinations and Delusions
(National Institute on Aging)
3. Delirium - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment & pathology
(Osmosis from Elsevier)
4. Shifting focus: Hallucinations and Paranoia
(Alzheimer Society of Ontario)
5. Hallucinations vs Delusions: The Differences You Need to Know
6. Psychosis, Delusions and Hallucinations – Psychiatry | Lecturio
(Lecturio Medical)


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