How do you deal with an elder having hallucinations at night?

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My mom sees horses in our yard during the night she goes outside and yells and bangs things. She has been hospitalized twice and each time the doctors send her home with pills that she refuses to take. She is alone during the day so I think she sleeps during the day.I tell that I don't see the horses and she becomes very angry which has increased over the last few months.

Answers 1 to 8 of 8
There was a couple times when I was a child that I went sleep walking. We used to live in Michigan, and boy oh boy the winters are cold there. I would go downstairs, out the front door, down a few more stairs, walk all the way to the corner, and poof, there's Mom shaking me..."what are you don't have any shoes or socks on...." Sometimes remembering what a pain in the butt I was, helps me.
What is your mother's diagnosis, PAD? Why was she in the hospital?

Several conditions can cause hallucinations,including but not limited to, dementia.

There are medications that may help, but, of course, not if your mother doesn't take them.

In general you cannot talk a person out of beleiving what they see. She sees horses, even if you don't. Is the yard fenced? Could you walk around the yard with her in the early evening, checking that there are no loose places in the fence, any gates are locked, etc., to keep the horses out? Some people might enjoy seeing horses out their window. What is it about the situation that bothers your mother so that she wants to chase them away? Perhaps you could reassure her about that. "The horses can never break into the house," or "The rosebushes are safe -- they are too close to the fence for the horses to trample them."

Is there any harm in her attempts to chase the horses away? For example, are there neighbors close enough to be bothered by the noise? If not, maybe it is not so important to stop her.

Be sure her doctor knows of this behavior. Since UTIs can cause hallucinations, that is something to watch for and have checked out, too.

Sorry to hear about your mom having hallucinations at night. Many other caregiver and seniors experience bad behavior and hallucinations. I have attached a link to an article that can help handle these hallucinations.

How to Handle an Elderly Parent's Bad Behavior
Page 5: When Elderly Experience Hallucinations, Delusions and Paranoia

Hope this helps,

Karie H. Team
First of all, purchase a chain lock and put at the TOPS of the doors before she gets lost, hit, or falls outside. Second of all, check her medications and give mornings if you can.For me and many others, even Vitamin D taking after noon time gives me horrific nightmares. Best of Luck to you and your Mom!!
Hi PAD, My mother is hallucinating also and the advice to check for a UTI is a good one. I have noticed that my Mom does better when she takes cranberry pills. They are super concentrated and takes them with a full glass of water - this is a really good way to be sure she is getting her fluids as well. I have put extra security locks on the doors and windows as well. I know her hallucinations are horses outside but is she experiencing them inside? I took me forever to figure out she is confusing the people in paintings and pictures for "That man' or 'those women'. :) Good luck
My mother's doctor added small doses of Haldol, which REALLY helped. She was having night terrors---yelling in her sleep, man by her bed, cat in her closet---almost every night. She was always a heavy dreamer but at the early stages of her Alzheimer's, these became worse and, as her doctor told me, were no longer nightmares but hallucinations. She has not had one "bad night" since she began taking the Haldol, almost a year ago! Good luck.
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These answers remind me once again how individualistic the problems/solutions of dementia are. Locks high on the doors are useful for Alzheimer's. They are a joke for people with LBD. (I don't know about other forms of dementia.) Haldol, especially in very low doses, can be very useful for some kinds of dementia. It can be fatal or have permanent adverse side effects for people with LBD. (I carry a printed warning about this and handed the warning out freely in the ER and on the floor during my husband's recent hospitalization. Few professionals in the hospital had ever heard of LBD, although it is the second most-frequently occuring degenerative dementia.) It is really good that we can exchange our experiences here, and get ideas from each other. I just want to emphasize that in dealing with dementia issues, one size does not fit all.
I have to echo Jeanne concerns.

My mom has Lewy Body Dementia and has animal hallucinations. For her it is cats, rabbits and other small animals. It is a "false belief" and nothing anyone says is going to change her belief.Ever. Hallucinations are a hallmark of LBD - which is the 2nd most common dementia and very, very different than ALZ. LBD'ers are highly functioning, usually ambulatory and quite social. For my mom, her LBD is usually episodic. She was able to live in IL till about a year ago and she is mid 90's. Then the episodes just became too frequent and she refused to take her med's, so she in now in a NH. She is on Exelon & Remeron and this seems to keep her very even.

If your mom has not been evaluated by a gerontologist then please try to have that done so that they can give you a baseline on where she is on the dementia scale
and what type of dementia. The treatment approach for dementia is quite different for ALZ than for Lewy than for Vascular dementia.

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