Thursday, October 23, 2014

Friday, September 25, 2009 PB&J, Community Member, asks

Q: What does it mean when someone suddenly starts hearing music/voices that are not there?

It started about two days ago.  My MIL had a bad headache, so I gave her some tylenol, something she never takes.  Yesterday she kept asking who was singing Glen Cambell songs (no one was).  Last night she had a long "conversation" with someone - i have no idea who, because no one was there.  Then, she tried to turn off the T.V. (it wasn't on) and when she couldn't, she started unplugging things from the wall.  This was about midnight.  
Today she keeps asking me why "they" keep singing that song, and where is the radio it is playing on.   There is no music being played in my house currently.  She also wanted to know why the T.V. keeps saying "your too young for that!  Your too young for that!"  The T.V. is not turned on! 

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Answers (3)
Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
9/26/09 8:18am

I think she needs to see a doctor right away. This could have been a mini-stroke or something else. It could be a new medication she's taking. Whatever the issue, since it was so sudden, it seems a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible. Sudden is the key word, here.


Good luck and please check back,


PB&J, Community Member
9/26/09 11:43am



Thank you for your response.  I agree, she should see a doctor.  The problem is, I don't know how to get her to go to one.  She does not take any medications, and on the rare occasions she has seen a doctor she nods pleasantly and agrees to everything during the visit, then ignores their advice entirely.  She has done this her entire adult life.  She does not trust doctors at all, and never has.  I can count on one hand the number of times she has seen a physician in the past ten years (she is now 92) because she just will not go!  She is the same way with eye doctors, hearing specialists, dentists, etc...  The only time she takes a doctor's advice is when she believes she has a problem.  For example, she wears glasses because she believes they help her see better.  She does not take her glaucoma medication because she does not believe she has glaucoma and thinks the medicine is "dangerous".


I have thought about making an appointment and then taking her without telling her where we are going, but she would be so furious that I think it would be  counter-productive.  She at least likes the physician she has now - if I "force" her to go to him, she may never trust him again. 


The other issue is that although I am her main support person at home, I don't think she trusts me, and I don't think she ever has despite having been married to her son for over 20 years.  The only person she trusts in our family is my husband, her son.  My husband works at a university and classes begin on Monday, so right now he cannot take time off of work to take care of her.


I am at a loss as to where to turn!



Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
9/26/09 12:12pm

I know the "nodding" routine. Even if some of our elders don't mind going to the doctor, they are rarely up front about all the issues because they don't feel they have issues!


You are right about fooling her. Sometimes that works, but that is more likely when there is dementia and the person is forgetful, so once you are there you just usher them in and they are confused enough to forget. You don't have that going on.


Unless she has a good friend who can convince her, I don't know how you can get her there. Her history is such that if she won't even take her glaucoma meds, I doubt she'd do what the doctor said, anyway.


Talk this over with your husband, but I really don't know what you can do. Elders have choices and she has been making them all along. This time is maybe not so different than with her other health issues. She is 92 and has done quite well, so she's going to figure she knows best.


Whatever happens, don't feel guilty. You are doing all you can. If she will not go to a doctor, there may not be a choice but to give in to her wishes.


See what your husband says and go from there. But neither of you should carry any guilt here.


Take care,


NC, Community Member
9/26/09 3:05pm

I have not experienced this from my father-in-law's moderate/severe Alzheimer's so I have no idea. He is still pretty much aware of the surroundings although he always misinterpreted and he does not even know he is in his own house!

However, Carol is right, she needs to see a doctor. Maybe a home care professional or a friend in the medical field can convince her to see a doctor. Your husband should be the one that can talk to her about it. With some white lies or tricks or "baits" that makes her feel well enough mentally to see a doctor.

I also don't relate to my FIL too well. I think it is normal as we are all just in-laws. I think even if the relationships with the in-laws are good, we are always the in-laws. My FIL even sometimes mistook me as a lady friend or a woman who is interested in him! Once he was told I am "just" the DIL, he got kind of disappointed looking for his lady friends. But he is way off to get any mate now. Don't worry about it. It is your husband that she will trust forever and hold on to forever, just like my husband. My husband is a professor so he is busy as well, but he calls his Dad everyday. We don't live together. (He has home care for 24 hours in his house in Illinois.)


Anyway, I hope you will find a way to help your MIL to see a doctor. She may need some medications.


Good luck,

NC, Community Member
9/26/09 3:15pm

By the way, some family doctors make house calls. Since she likes her physician now, maybe the  doctor can give a try to convince her to go to the clinic and see the doctors.



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By PB&J, Community Member— Last Modified: 06/11/14, First Published: 09/25/09