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Dealing with Hallucinations 
Started by AdoptedSon
06 Jan 2013, 5:47 PM
Hi All, I am Ian, and new to this forum, lurked for a bit.  I am the primary care giver for my Mother who is 95 and who is slowly wearing down. 

Lately she is having hallucinations at night, rather lucid ones in which she is seeing things hanging from the bedroom ceiling, strange colored objects.   She is also saying that some person is calling her (she has no phone) to check up on her.

She is talking about how this "person" is seeing if she is doing what she is told, but won't say what that is.  It frightens her a great deal, and wonders how this person can get into her room, which they can't.

It scares her a great deal, and I can see it in her face, her eyes, but I have no idea how to deal with this.

Do I agree with her when she says there are bundles of paper hanging from the ceiling or do I try to explain them away?  Do I say there is nothing there, that it is just her over tired mind?

She really isn't on any powerful medications either, a mild sleeping pill and a mild pain pill, tramadol for pain in her legs.   So I doubt it is the medicine, that is causing this, but I suppose, my concern is, how do I deal with it, when she is so adamant about seeing these things?
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Reply by Tian
07 Jan 2013, 6:06 PM
Dear Ian

I am not a physician but I think your mother should see one as soon as possible. I don't understand why she is having hallucinations but I understand why she is very frightened - because for her those hallucinations are reality. If I were in her shoes I'd do anything to not be so scared and I think seeing a doctor would be the best option. I think you should take her to the doctor who is following her getting worn down (your mother need not know that you would be taking her to that doctor because of her hallucinations) and let them take it from there. I would think that medications can be prescribed for alleviating your mother's symptoms.
Good luck.
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Reply by AdoptedSon
07 Jan 2013, 7:07 PM
Thank you Tian

Our Doctor is coming either today or tomorrow to check on her. She can't get out, given her strength and ability to walk.  She can barely weight bear these days, so only way would be by Ambulance, which would make it hard to hide.

I've adopted the plan of trying to agree, and find solutions to the hallucinations, which has sort of worked.  But it seems the hallucinations are coming more often, so hopefully the Doctor will find an explanation, or at least find a way to contain them.

Thank you.
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Reply by Tian
07 Jan 2013, 9:25 PM
Your welcome Ian. I hope that one way or an other the fear your mother has been experiencing will diminish. She has more than her share of other problems to deal with. Feel free to let us know how things proceed.
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Reply by ShiningStar
08 Jan 2013, 3:34 AM
Hi Ian!
Welcome to Virtual Hospice and thanks so much for trusting us.
I am so sorry that you are going through this.
I totally agree with Tian about the doctor thing and I am glad that it is hapening in the next couple of days.
I am also glad that following along has helped so far because as Tian said the images are real for your mom, so the feelings of relief and comfort of having you there to support her are also real. And as we say in palliative care it is all about making them feel comfortable and safe. It seems to me like you are doing a good job.
Please keep us posted on what the doctor says. What's the cause? and what's he/she going to  do for your mom.

Just one question: How do you feel about what's happening? 

Warm regards,

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Reply by AdoptedSon
08 Jan 2013, 4:13 AM
Thanks all

Am waiting on the Doctor, guess its going to be tomorrow that he'll come.

Seems to be coming on earlier each day too.  Last night it was at 6, today it started at around 3pm,  It is off and on, but it is rather freaky.

Truthfully it scares me.  We have been close, and seeing the terror in her face, her eyes, is almost too much at times, but it won't help her for me to show that.  I think that is what makes this a hard task, keeping one's own feelings hidden, when you just want to hit something, smash something, or scream out, but know you can't.

Hopefully it is something that a round of pills can alleviate, but it is the not knowing, that is also worrisome, and frightening.

Anyhow it is helpful to just get it out, not bottle it inside. 

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Reply by Tian
08 Jan 2013, 1:38 PM
Yes Ian, it must be scary for you as well as your mother. I can imagine that you feel you've been plucked into a horror movie. And the uncertainty makes you feel that you are not at all on stable footing. But it seems that you have come to a degree of acceptance of your mother's physical deterioration and it may be necessary to do the same with her mental state. Whatever happens, it is what it is. Your mother needs to be kept as comfortable as possible and you cannot neglect your own needs. Do you have any siblings helping out?

Wishing you peace.

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Reply by AdoptedSon
08 Jan 2013, 7:47 PM
No, no siblings, just my spouse, who at least helps relieve some of the pressures.  Still it is hard on him too, but it is what it is.  Can't change that, so one tries to not let it get to you, but it does.

Thank you all, it is a help to at least talk it out.  Now I just need to be patient, wait for the Doctor and see what this is all about.  I am hoping its nothing more than a result of some infection, and that pills can cure it, but then too, I know that could be just wishful thinking.

Either way, it is as you say, what it is.

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Reply by Plum1
08 Jan 2013, 9:56 PM

Dear AdoptedSon,
I have just become aware of your coming into the community here. Welcome! Please know that I feel for you greatly and can understand a lot of what you are describing.

I have been accompanying my mother who is about to turn 102. She is being cared for in a seniors' residence. Until a year ago, her mind was very clear. Then, there were several changes in her health, and at the same time, she began to show cognitive confusion of various kinds. She has days when she, too, is hallucinating. She sees, as you say, all kinds of strange things in the room and on her bed. Fortunately, these things are not too threatening. However, she also has days when she feels she is being abused, and describes how attendants are shouting at her, throwing her around, and leaping over the bed. When she first spoke of the latter, I did worry that she was being mistreated. Gradually, I began to realize that these expereinces were a result of the state of her mind on that day. The doctor was alerted and he prescri;bed some medication. I am not sure that the medication has actually been beneficial. She continues to have hallucinations. Fortunately, as previously, they do only last for a couple of days. The increased mental agitation seems to tire her, and she then goes into a time of sleep to finally emerge into a state of cognitive clarity. Of course we know that the days of halucinating will return, and they do. Like you, I have learned to just listen to Mom, to comfort her as much as I can, to reassure her.

I am sorry that the hallucinations you mother has are so frightening to her and so to you. Anything which we do not understand and cannot control can be very scary. By now, you have probably had the visit from the doctor. The doctor may have decided to hospitalize your mother so that extensive testing could be done. Sudden mental changes may not always be easy to diagnose. Please do keep us informed of developments.

I am glad that you have found us as you and your spouse must feel very stressed. Is there anything in particular that we can do for you just now?

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Reply by Tian
08 Jan 2013, 10:07 PM
Glad to hear that you don't have to bear the burden by yourself although that means your spouse also has to endure the grind. If you are up to it you can let us know what the doctor came up with.
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