Hallucinations vs. Memory Loss

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My mothers delusions and hallucinations, which are always negative and disturbing are anguishing her. Worse yet, she is not distractable. She will always go back to the negative issue (last week she lost a bunch of savings bonds, she is convinced that my father stole them. This is just the tip of the iceburg) These hallucination or dellusions seems to be more in the forefront and disabling than the memory issues. She is also able to present herself as lucid and rational to her PCP. When I discuss the issues with the doctors office they advise they see no concerns and feel she is stable. Could she be misdiagnosed or is this typical of Alzheimer's/dementia? Mostly I hear people discussing memory loss with the paranoia being secondary. With my mother is seems to be the biggest issue. Any suggestions on how to handle this situation. Also, she does not feel she has any problems and any mention of a problem and she gets very angry. Also, these issues are completely out of character. She was always very calm.
Also, people have told me that these hallucinations are based on memories and now they are just coming out. Any truth to that?


Video tape the times she's doing this behavior and take that with you to the doctor! I care for my husbands 98 yr old grandmother and her doctor is the same way...just because she seems fine right that min, he blows off what we tell him she's been doing! So I've been getting together some tapes to show him and then see what he has to say about it. And if I get the same response and he always dose I'm taking her to a new doctor and then I will report him. And if you can right now get her in for a second opinion to see if there is more to all this then her doctor is telling you. If I had poa of grandma she would have been taken to a different doctor a long time ago! But my mother in law has it (but I care for grams in my home) And she thinks this doctor is all that, just because he says she healthier then him! What a joke, the poor woman has ALZ, high bp,diabetic, inconstant (sp) thyroid problems and so on! But good luck to you and hopefully you get to the bottem of her troubles and yours!
My mom is the same way. We get together w/ people or go to the doctor and she amazingly can act quite normal. At home she can be mean. She is never happy, she is hot then she is cold, she needs this and that and never happy. She wants to get out of the house and when she does, she wants to go home. She will not stop whining until you do as she says. Yet she can't make herself a bowl of cereal or pick out clothes herself. Of course everyone is stealing her stuff. She also will not let us bring in any help, because she doesn't need it. haha When we do bring someone in to interview she talks for days that our dad is cheating on her w/ whom ever has been there.
We hate to put her in a home because she will be more of a mess, but yet my dad is exhaughted. He is not in good health himself. We help as much as possible, but it's hard to juggle work, kids and our own households at the same time. What is the best way to transition for change, ie. in home care or assisted living?
Gosh, all the stories are so sad....and so familiar! It's totally exhausting! Rden, do you have your mother on any type meds? My husband has vas dementia and we have HAD to put him on seroquel, aricept...now looking at upping the seroquel or adding ativan, or something! He can go for days without sleep and just calls out all the time...even with full time help in the house, it's disturbing and very stressful....of course with full time help, I have no time alone ever! Anyway, I would be curious to know what drugs she is on.....and if she isn't, for goodness sakes get her on some! If you have to tape her for the doctor to believe you, do it!

I feel so sorry for your father, it must be terribly hard on him, the patients have lost regard for anyone but themselves, which is the disease!
First of all, I am so sorry! I know first-hand how difficult this can be. I knew years before it was obvious to everyone else that my mom was in trouble. Sometimes she was so convincing to others that I wondered about myself. Unfortunately, time has proven me right and Mom is now in an assisted living and everyone understands that she is mentally ill, as well as in the the moderate stages of dementia.

The best thing we ever did was to find a geriatric specialist who believed us, not just what she said. It was incredibly comforting to know that we were believed, as well as knowing that she was about to get the help (and drugs) that she needed.

I've noticed that when Mom is exceptionally irrational and delusional, she is usually diagnosed with a UTI shortly afterwards. I had no idea that these can cause such confusion in the elderly - without any outward symptoms. They are only diagnosed with lab tests.

My advice would be to find a geriatric specialist (if at all possible) and to have her tested for a UTI, as well. The geriatric specialist has been able to help us navigate all of these changes and given us an understanding of what is going on and prepare for what we will be facing.

And my heart goes out to you. Please keep us posted.

Elizabeth Grace
It's comforting to talk and hear from others going thru this sad, horrible situation. We took my mom to an Internest that is board certified in Geriatrics for the 2nd time on monday. He is such a cool Dr. I want to take a video of my mom and bring it, but I could tell that he got the general idea of what is happening. She said a few crazy things while we were there.
Our family dr. was or did not seem to be trying anything, nor did he seem to care. I guess he is burned out, plus some dr.'s are not allowed to spend too much time w/ their patients. Anyway, this new guy started my mom on trazodone at bed time, after trying 3 anti-depressants that made her more crazy an hr after taking them. The trazodone seems to help w/ her restlessness.....
She's been on airecept for a few years....I think that is causing some of her restlessness, but not sure. He added another 25mgs of the trazadone to ttry during the day and he also suggested respiratol (anti psychotic) to be given as needed, when she is acting mean and crazy.My dad actually gave her one last night.....Today she wasn't mean, just not remembering where the bathroom was etc.(normal these days) I was there for 4 hrs. helping out.
I found a girl that can come over to help out, but I know she will say she doesn't want her there or that she or my dad doesn't need help. yeah right....I want to tell her it's either that or she will have to go into a home. Can you tell a dementia person that? Bless you all and have a good night!!!!
She doesn't see that my dad can not do this 24/7. She does say that she hates the way she feels and wonders when she will get better.
I forgot to ask about a UTI......Thanks for the reminder......
This subject is exactly why I come here to offer my support. I learned a great deal about, the illness,how to deal with certain situations,Meds,and triggering Moods,and how to read into why she reacts certain ways. I will start with Mom's behavior prior to DR diagnosis, completely stubborn(always has been though), extremely delusional, accusing of theft,refused help, believing she had dates with the neighbors much younger husband etc. but she was thank god aware enough to hand over her accounts and bills to a very nice friend who was the only one MOM trusted and she was very honest and trust worthy (her inner instintcts were right). Then one cold day in October she was found by police walking in her bathing suit. They brought her to a mental health hospital ER. Then she was admitted to a behavioral health section of hospital, 30 days to be stabilized with medication and she was much more pleasant less confused and no delusion. The Dr's there explained why she was diagnosed with cognitive impairment dementia and what Meds were needed and why. Well I took her home, got and aid to be with her during the times I worked, this lasted about 1 year with episodes of dangerous acts such as climbing out windows, leaving house in bitter cold with no coat. I would find her pills in places after I watched her take them (she would trick me into thinking she was taking them). So back to behavioral heath. Stabilized once again. Now she is in Nursing Home and she was doing quite well there, yes, confused but seemed comfortable. She WUVSICECREAM (hence my ID) so that is my stability test. If she dosen't want icecream I know she's not right. So I began to notice a change in her behavior so I asked her if she wanted icecream, the face and reaction I got you would think I asked her if she wanted poopie,I asked nurse if anything was different with her meds. They were slowly taking her off the seroquel. I was told they are not allowed to keep her on it and she is fine don't worry we are caring for her and she's ok for us. I attempted to explain the problem she is with out it. It was like I was talking to a wall. So I researched seroquel and found out it is not good for her physically so then I realizes maybe it's Ok and they know what is best. Although she is now, not showering for them wont conform like before and hoarding everything she could hoard, simply being impossible to care for. So then the nurse said they are trying to get a urine sample. I tryed to tell them, NO this is how she gets and now they are telling me they are having difficulty with her as if I didn't warn them. At the behavioral heath hospital they explain that the quality of life is better with the meds and it outweighs the danger. I have come to realize that even though Mom is not all there all the time she is still in there and you have to really open your mind and look for the little clues that may help you help them. Oh and also one day while visiting her in the *3 door access locked in unit* She whispered to me " after you leave I am going to pretend I am sleeping and when they are not paying attention I will climb out a window " That is when I realized that's what she did to me at home, fake a nap so I thought I could rest then she'd take off. This disire to get out was the only thing clear to her and the thought process to accomplish her mission was driven by her disire to be free to be herself. In her mind she wants to seek comfort. Where is your, safest, be yourself place? Just like a 2 year old that only knows "wheres mommy" because MOM means safe and secure. In reality this is mission impossible and they act out possibly because they can never accomplish the mission.
For my sister and I life has been really hard with our 82 year old Mom. Our Mom is someone who thinks she is healthy as a horse. She always refused to go to the doctor and fought us about going. We decided we would just make the appointment and when she thought we were taking her shopping we took her to the doctor. We could not get her into the doctor. She kicked us, bit us, hit us. It was just horrible. I had to go into the doctors office to get someone to help us. They got her into the office and did a few tests. She has beginning diabetes, low thyroid, a heart murmur which is causing swollen feet and ankles that are purple, she has bad dementia and her blood is thickening. She says the doctors are nuts and nothing is wrong with her. The doctor prescribed thyroid pills. She throws them away and refuses to take them. What are we to do. She can be sweet one minute and the next incredibly mean. She thinks were out to steal from her. If she doesn't like what you tell her she swears at us so loud in public. She does not remember some family members and repeats constantly. She lives in her house and refuses to move out. My sister and I have families and lives, but have to constantly run back and forth to check on her. it's becoming so hard. She makes up stories that just make no sense. What are we to do? We try so hard to help. The doctor sees how she is and says we have to take one step at a time, but she won't and refuses to take any step to get better. Were afraid she will end up dying because she says she's fine and will not take any medication at all. Help
In my situation the docs won't declare mom incompetent because I would then have some authority and not allow them to do half of what they do to her in order to milk the medicare cow. Greedy bastards they are.
Please be aware that many of the psychiatric medications they give for hallucinations and undesireable behaviors cause grave side effects in the elderly. Some of the warnings say to not give to elderly confused dementia patients, or elderly patients with diabetes, as they can cause death. Please watch for any negative changes in behavior or health while on these meds. For the elderly, they should only be prescribed by a specialist specializing in the elderly, who is familiar with psychiatric medications. There are some nursing facilities who have a psychiatrist who visit the patients and who prescribe the meds.
Finding the right combination of drugs has been quite a challenge for the doctor. She is as stable now as she has been in years. Although she is confused and her memory is pretty much gone, she's much more peaceful now. I will tell you that getting to this point was a trial. You have to give everything time to prove whether it is working or not and that is hard to do when everything is spiraling out of control. And I've learned to just be happy for the moments that she's happy or content, because 30 minutes later it can all fall apart.

Her assisted living facility has been wonderful. The staff is caring and keeps me informed, as well as educating me on how to talk to her. You asked if you can say some things to people with dementia - and I didn't know whether to laugh or cry for you. I've said it all - the good, the bad and the ugly - in my frustration and pain and fear.

The (geriatric) psychologist that visits Mom twice a month has helped me greatly with this. She said that Mom feels out of control and wants to feel useful and capable. So I am to praise her for whatever success she manage - even if it is something as simple as managing to put a bracelet on herself. When Mom visits me, the psychologist said to take all of the towels out of my linen closet and pile them on the bed and ask Mom to help me by folding the "laundry". I thought that sounded condescending at first, but in my desperation I tried it and she worked on that pile of towels for 30 minutes and I heard her singing as she did it. She smiled when she showed me her work and when I thanked her for her help. It was so bittersweet that I wanted to cry.

I'm still tempted at times just to tell her the truth when she's irrational and angry and defiant, but if I can just step back mentally from the situation and look at it without taking it personally and approach it that way, then she settles down quicker. Notice I did NOT say that it is EASY!! :) If I remain calm, the situation does not escalate as much. But it is hard to take when your mother looks at you and talks to you like you're an idiot even when you know that they are irrational. It's part of the disease.

Your dad can't do this 24/7. Period. I don't know how anyone does it without a break. But maybe you can convince him that this is not the best for your mother either. My mother is much better off in this assisted living than she would be with me - always at the end my patience, my energy and my rope.

And I've heard my mother say the same thing - that she hates the way she feels and she wants to get better. She's in a phase now where she doesn't remember as often that she has a problem. (She thinks it's the rest of us with the problem.) It's a much more peaceful phase for her. But it is a phase, which means that it is always changing.

Please let me know if I can help. There are some wonderful, caring people on this site and they supported me as I began navigating these waters with my mom. I hope you have a good day today!

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