Dementia Patients See People That Aren't There?

Question

Asked by Joyce

Dementia Patients See People That Aren't There?

Do people with dementia see people that aren't there?

Answer

When the brain becomes damaged by Alzheimer's disease or a related illness, it begins to have difficulty making sense of the environment. The sensory organs, such as the eyes and ears, may be working but the brain is not able to correctly interpret the signals from those organs. As a result, the person with dementia may see things that are not really there, hear voices or sounds that do not exist, or smell odors that nobody else seems to detect. These are all examples of hallucinations. Trying to convince the person that the people do not exist will most likely be unsuccessful. Instead, validate the person's feelings and reassure the individual that he or she is safe and redirect him or her to something pleasant.

Most importantly, if a person seems to be exhibiting changes in behavior, it is imperative to see a healthcare professional. The doctor will need to evaluate the person for any problems that could be causing the hallucinations. This could include side effects of medications, infections, dehydration or other medical conditions. In addition, the doctor may recommend a medication intervention to help subside these symptoms.