Hallucinations in The Elderly Are Common and it would be remiss if I did not talk about hallucinations. There are many causes for them, here are some of the main culprits: UTI’s
Lewy body, Drug complications, Dehydration and Dementia
I thought hallucinations belonged to ‘Rock and Rollers’ on heavy acid. I was wrong!
My first experience was early on in my caring career. I had just arrived at a new client’s front door which was opened by a smiley but wild-eyed carer who literally pulled me through the open door and quickly closed and bolted it in case I tried to escape. However, being a newbie I thought she was just happy to see me and make me welcome.
She said we would be having lunch with the client in the kitchen. Nervously I walked through to the kitchen and introduced myself to my new client, she sort of nodded and indicated I should sit down but first get the ‘Fox off the Chair’! OK, this was new for me, perhaps British civility I was unaware of? Needless to say, lunch was over with very quickly the outgoing carer on fast forward motion, so fast it was difficult to see her individual movements. Before I could take a breath she was dressed in coat, hat and gloves, suitcase packed and at the front door waving goodbye.
On night three I was woken with violent screaming and thought I was in the middle of ‘Amityville Horror’ dear God who is being killed, I ran through to the clients’ bedroom to find her screaming and crying and sobbing. Shouting at me to “Get rid of all the Foxes in her room now!”
Nowhere in the Carers’ training manual does it tell you how to get rid of invisible Foxes! So I play-act and pretend I am calling dogs and get the Foxes out of the room and she quietens down. Phew, that was a first but certainly not the last experience of hallucinations.
They are awful and fairly frightening particularly if you are in the middle of a wonderful dream and woken by high pitched, terrifying screams.
This particular person suffered from ‘Lewy body syndrome’. It was not a good experience and I perfectly understood recent carers wild eyes. Lewy Body Syndrome is in my experience one of the worst forms of dementia and hallucinations is a common byproduct of the disease. You can find out a lot more here: www.lbda.org/category/3437/what- is-lbd.htm or read my article on Dementia and The Elderly
Hallucinations in The Elderly Are Common
More recently again in a night of wonderfully peaceful sleep, I become aware of this deep groaning, primaeval screaming of my name. I literally catapulted out of bed and flung myself into the opposite wall before gaining my balance and realising where I was and then headed for the door in search of the noise confronting head on my OD stood at the top of the stairs shouting my name and to “Let the Cats Out” reminiscent of “Who Let the Dogs Out”. Getting her attention, asking quietly what was wrong I guided her back to her bedroom getting ready for the full explanation. She kept pointing and saying, “You must not bring Cats in here, you must let them out”.
To put you in the picture, there are no cats here, there have never been cats here and I was quietly sleeping and minding my own business.
Finally, I got her settled and into bed assuring her there were no cats in the house and they couldn’t get in anyway as no windows were open. Just before leaving the room she said I should check under the bed for Hippos and she saw a Tiger in the Corner of the room that the cats brought in. I got rid of Tiger and Hippo got her settled and went back to bed.
Luckily the next day I was due to pick up another set of antibiotics for UTI infections as my particular person is regularly suffering from these. These solved the problem. She obviously had a UTI but was not complaining of any symptoms.
Hallucinations in the Elderly Are Common and you may experience them during your Live-in Care Career. They are horrible even if you have experienced them before. To suddenly see a normally lucid person become insane is not fun. This can be life-altering for a person and you need to reassure them it was because of the UTI that this occurred and that they are not becoming demented.
I know my OD felt that this should be the end of the road and she seriously was heading this way until I explained the reason for the hallucinations and then at that moment decided to live. I could feel the life come back and hope begin again. It is extremely frightening for them to have
And all was right with the world and it was a job well done, which of course I told myself as nobody else would!
Hallucinations in the Elderly Are Common so be aware if suddenly your Elderly Person loses the plot the reason for this can often be attributed to a handful of causes. Some of these are easily remedied.
To find out more visit www.lbda.org/category/3437/what- is-lbd.htm or read my article on Dementia and The Elderly