Hallucinations in the Elderly

by | Jul 10, 2024

A hallucination is defined as an abnormal sensory perception – typically auditory or visual – that occurs when a person is awake and conscious. Essentially, a person experiencing a hallucination sees or hears something that is not there. A hallucination can also involve the other senses, although this is rare. While individuals may hallucinate for various reasons, there are a few common causes that specifically affect the elderly. Seniors who suffer from hallucinations may become easily scared or agitated and should not be left alone. A qualified provider of live-in care can recognize the symptoms of a hallucination and react quickly to provide necessary aid.


Common Causes of Hallucination in the Elderly

Hallucinations can be difficult to diagnose. Many family members tend to question the validity of the senior’s complaints when it comes to seeing or hearing things that are not there. It’s important to make an appointment with the senior’s physician if he begins experiencing hallucinations, as they can indicate a serious medical problem.

Doctors will likely try and rule out a psychiatric disorder first, such as bipolar, schizophrenia, or depression, which can all lead to hallucinations. Other common causes of hallucinations may include:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Dehydration
  • Epilepsy
  • Vision or hearing loss
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Brain cancer
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Charles Bonnet Syndrome

Hallucinations may also be caused by medication side effects. Certain drug interactions can be dangerous, so be sure you and your caregiver are on the same page when it comes to medicine.

Hallucination in the Elderly

Symptoms of Hallucinations

Without careful observation, hallucinations may go unnoticed. Caregivers can keep an eye on what to look for. Symptoms may include:

  • Drastic change in behavior or mood
  • Anxiety
  • Heightened sense of awareness
  • Reduced sense of judgment
  • Confusion and delusions
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Insomnia
  • Withdrawal
  • Referring to things or people that are not there

To treat hallucinations in the elderly, the root cause must be determined. For example, patients with Charles Bonnet Syndrome can reduce or eliminate their hallucinations by brightening their environment. If the root cause cannot be identified, anti-anxiety medicine or anti-depressants may be prescribed. Helping the patient to relax and get plenty of rest may reduce the frequency of their hallucinations.

Understandably, hallucinations can be very disorienting and disturbing – both to the senior and those around him. Often these abnormal sensory experiences can be reduced or eliminated with the right treatment, so be sure to speak with a physician right away. If you have a loved one who is experiencing hallucinations, it is best not to leave them alone.

Hopefully, with time and treatment, their hallucinations will become a thing of the past. Utilizing Parkwood Homecare’s homecare Nova Scotia services can ensure the safety and well-being of seniors experiencing hallucinations in the elderly. Through attentive care and professional support, these unsettling experiences can be managed effectively.

Lorna MacMillan

Lorna MacMillan, President & Founder

Lorna MacMillan is the President and Founder of Parkwood Home Care. Lorna is a thought leader in the areas of Adult Ageing, Psychology and Adult Education . Through years of experience with seniors, individuals disabilities and a strong passion for helping others, Lorna was able to create Parkwood Home Care into the care service it is today.