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How can I tell if my mom has Alzheimer's or short term memory loss? I think she's hallucinating.

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 25, 2012
An anonymous caregiver asked...

Caring.com User - Ann Cason
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The mind of old age is fascinating. Hallucinations could be caused by Alzheimer's. On the other hand, they could be caused by medication or other types of illness. It is See also:
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not unusal for an elder to hallucinate in the hospital; then settle down at home.

Your mother needs a diagnosis from a doctor who specializes in geriatric medicine. This specialty if not always available, but if not, find a good internal medicine physician or a geriatic psychiatrist or neurologist. Some clinics have phsychiatric nurse practioners. It would be wonderful to find that her condition is treatable.

Whether it is Alzheimer's or hallucinations from other causes, pay attention to how you communicate with your mother.

  • Try not to accept or reject her view of the world. Don't try to talk her out of it.
  • Let yourself feel how scarey it would be to sit in the hallway.
  • Say, "Mother you must be tired. Let me hold your hand while you rest."
  • It is easy to lose track of time in a hospital. Night and day are not clear.
  • Could she have been waiting for an xray.
  • Sometimes hospitals keep restless elders by the nursing station to keep them safe.
  • When an elder tells me."Don't sit there, can't you see my little friend?" I might tell her that I can't see her friend and then answer, "Thank you for telling me."