My mother believes she is talking to the dead. Should I be concerned?

Ridle asked...

My mother is in the mid level of Alzheimer's progression, and during a recent visit she told my sister that she has been communicating with her parents (our grandparents) who have been deceased for several years. Is this unusual? What recommendations have you to handle this?

Expert Answer

Merrily Orsini, MSSW, was a pioneer in the business of providing geriatric care managed in-home care. She currently serves on the board of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice and is Chair of the Private Duty Homecare Association. She holds a master's degree in social work and is a nationally known writer and speaker on aging, elder issues, and in-home care.

Hallucinating is one symptom or bi-product of some cognitive disorders. You mention that your mother has Alzheimer's, and, I assume that is a diagnosis received from a geriatric specialist and not a self diagnosis based on confusion or behavior. If you have not had her screened and properly diagnosed, do so immediately. If you have, then go back to that medical resource and get assistance with how to handle the behaviors associated with the progression of Alzheimer's. Again, if it IS Alzheimer's, there is no "handling" it except to listen to her and be supportive of her stories. Definitely do not try and convince her that she is hallucinating, as these communications are very real to her. A good resource is a book called Creating Moments of Joy that is written by Jolene Brackey.