Are my husband's frequent hallucinations a danger to his caregiver?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 25, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My husband with moderate dementia has frequent haluciantions whereby he experiences a few seconds of extreme terrot according to his facial expresion, pointing of fingers and hyperventilating - this occurs about 6 times a week, and there is no particular activity that sets it off - he can just be sitting, or in a store or standing or whatever - has anyone else experienced this - is there any danger to the caregiver?

Expert Answers

Jytte Lokvig, PhD, coaches families and professional caregivers and designs life-enrichment programs and activities for patients with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia. Her workshops and seminars help caregivers and families create a healthy environment based on dignity and humor. She is the author of Alzheimer's A to Z: A Quick-Reference Guide.

Often there's no way to know what causes a hallucination. It could be sounds, smells, the light or a tone of voice. Whatever is the cause, those of us who love this person need to understand that he's in an altered reality and usually the best way to help him is to go into that reality with him.

Example: If he thinks someone is coming to hurt him, you can pick up the phone and "make a call" to the FBI, or police to ensure that they have been alerted and that security in place. If he's unable to tell you what's frightening him, I would recommend that you try the phone call to law enforcement and teach this to any of his caregivers.

If he's seeing animals, you can be proactive and "take the critter outside to feed it." In this case, you'll open the door and motion to the invisible creature, go outside for a second and return with a smile that the poor thing was just hungry and now it's gone off.

Of course you're pretending, but it's important that you sound totally sincere and real. Your aim to convince him that you are his protector.

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