How Dementia-Related Psychosis Changes What You See and Hear
For our Mini Med School video series, we explore how DRP can affect a loved one's perception of the world around them.
Dementia-related psychosis (DRP) is a serious condition that affects millions of older Americans. People with DRP frequently see and hear things that seem very real to them, but do not reflect reality. This video takes a look at what may cause the hallucinations, illusions, and delusions that some people with DRP have, and what can be done about it.
If you know someone with dementia, you know how heart-wrenching the disease can be. Dementia is a neurological disorder that causes memory loss, language problems, and impairment to problem-solving skills. It affects eight million Americans and that number continues to rise.
Thirty percent of dementia patients also suffer from something called psychosis. Psychosis is a serious complication of dementia that occurs when a person has sensory experiences that don't align with reality. There are different types of dementia-related psychosis. Let's take a closer look.
Psychosis is caused by serotonin changes in the brain. These changes disrupt the flow of information that helps a person perceive their surroundings. This can lead to three different forms of psychosis.
A person with hallucinations will perceive an object or person that isn't really there. Hallucinations are most commonly found in the types of dementia called Lewy body dementia and Parkinson's disease. Sometimes a person might mistake the chair across the room as a person or pet.
Illusions occur when a person perceives an object as something else. This type of psychosis is also seen most often in Lewy body dementia or Parkinson's.
Finally, delusions are fixed long-term beliefs that don't align with reality. In these cases, a person may think their partner is stealing from them or that a loved one is an impostor. Many common dementias like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease often involve delusions. These symptoms of psychosis are devastating for patients and their families.
Better medications are helping, but treatment plans still have a long way to go. Early treatment for DRP symptoms will improve the outcome. That's why awareness is key.