My husband believes he often sees his father. Should I tell him it can't be?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 16, 2016
Little annie asked...

I feel that if I pretend that his father does live locally, and that he does see and talk to him, that he might realize I'm just going along with him and he will lose trust in me. He has mild/moderate Alzheimer's and is only now beginning to accept that his memory is going. He has even been able to share that it is quite scary. We have a very good relationship.

Expert Answers

Brenda Avadian, brings knowledge, hope, and joy to family caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer's and dementia. She cared for her father with Alzheimer's and helps families one-on-one and in groups. She is the author of eight books, including the pioneering memoir "Where's my shoes?" My Father's Walk through Alzheimer's and the Finding the JOY in Alzheimer's series. She presents vivid, compelling, and funny keynotes to both professional and family caregiving audiences.

If I may take a philosophical bent, how can you be sure it can't be that your husband believes he sees his father?

The medical profession will label your husband seeing his father as a hallucination.

Do we really know what is possible in our universe?

What if?

What if people with dementia have a special ability to "travel" through multi-layers of time in space to connect with those beyond or geographically elsewhere? I have seen enough examples of people with dementia connecting with loved ones on the "other side" that I can no longer be certain what really exists.

A safe approach is to remain by his side, learn from his experience while preserving his dignity.

Take the lead from your husband and ask him what his father is doing? What is he saying? Allow him to talk it through. Ask him what scares him about the experience.

Oftentimes, instead of rushing to judgment about what is or isn't, we can give the gift of comfort when we simply sit beside our loved one and go along for the ride. Who knows what you may discover in the process.

For more information about "hallucinations" and Alzheimer's, click on these articles below.

Alzheimer's Symptom: Hallucinates (sees, hears, smells things that aren't real)

Is it common to have hallucinations with Alzheimer's?

How can I handle my mother when she has hallucinations while saying she wants to "go home"?