My mother keeps hearing people outside her window at night, but there's no one there. Could dementia cause this paranoia?

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Sometimes she hears people whispering and other times she thinks there's two men on a ladder trying to get in through her window. What can we do? I live with her and I always check to try to comfort her but she still seems upset and then can't sleep. Thank you in advance for any suggestions.

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It's entirely possible that your mom has dementia that's causing this, but has she had any mental illness diagnosis in the past? Something that would cause these same symptoms? Has she ever been like this in the past, or is this new?

Unfortunately, when someone has dementia, the things they think they are hearing, feeling or experiencing seem very, very real to them. Sometimes it's impossible for them to rationalize something they see or hear, so they make up a huge, long story in their mind to justify it.
My grandmother was extremely demented in her later years and used to tell us someone was breaking into the attic through a window she had nailed shut, coming downstairs through several locked doors, getting meat out of the locked freezer, cooking it, eating it, washing the dishes and putting them away where she couldn't find them. All of this was to justify the fact that she had misplaced her favorite skillet.

I would recommend talking with your mom's doctor and seeing if a geriatric psych evaluation can be done to determine what's going on, and have her tested for any possible infections (like a UTI) to rule out any possibility of infection causing the change of mindset.
My Mom hallucinated a whole break in-even made them a snack!!! She had a UTI! Have the urine checked immediately to rule one out. The whole experience took at least 10 yrs off of MY life!!!
It would be a good idea to check to be certain there aren't any real sounds that would sound like what she's describing. For example, could there be a tree branch that hits or scrapes the side of the house? Are there any utilities, such as water running (or even a "babbling brook") or an HVAC system making noises that could be construed as conversation? If there is a real sound, it could be "amplified" in the mind of someone suffering from dementia.
I know when my mom started losing her hearing shed tell me she'd hear neighbors playing loud music outside.
They didn't but I didn't know my mom was having hearing issues.
My father in law who I am a caregiver for, would come out of the bedroom complaining that the guy who lived in the bathroom kept making noise, hollering woop woop, he lives with his wife alone in his home. I checked the bathroom and showed him no one there. I told him I would check outside, I went outside to check and found a squaril in a tree making noise in a tree outside the house by the bedroom. I chased it off and told him what it was. So try checking for any noise like a furnace /actually unit blowing or other noise that may not be a constant noise.
Sounds like your mom should visit her primary care doctor for a check up or a neurologist for an evaluation. Could be just age related dementia or a memory impairment. High blood pressure, not to fool with, can cause hallucinations. A uti may be the cause as well. A blood work up and urine test will show if there is any infection. Is your mom on any medications, especially a new one? A sleeping aid, some of the anti-psychotic meds can cause hallucinations or paranoia, even a simple antibiotic can do it. For peace of mind, get her checked out. If any meds are prescribed always watch for those dreaded side effects. The circle of life may bring on a caregiving role for us. We become more of a parent to our loved ones. I am caring for my elder brother with ALZ, I feel like a mom these days in lieu of a sister. What happened I ask many times! Wishes that all will be ok, helping our moms is the best, do it full steam! God Bless🌸
Hallucinations are absolutely a part of Alzheimer's/Dementia. My mother had MANY of them, from being stalked by someone at her apartment to this person breaking in and stealing her wallet which resulted in a call to the police. This mind-set had been building up for years; it wasn't sudden onset. When this "stalker/thief" followed her to the nursing home, the staff went along with her claims But, this is was a good thing. One day when I was visiting her, she became frantic that this stalker was coming through her wall and having sex under her bed. Her aide just happened to come by and said, "Oh, no, Mrs. B.! He got fired! He's not allowed in the building anymore. The police are watching him!" Even though she'd obsessed about this person for years, after the aide told her this, she never mentioned him again. But be aware that this is progressive. If Mom has not been evaluated by her PCP, it might be time.
I do not have dementia and I have had the same problem that your mother appears to be having. There are times when I'm in bed that I can swear I hear what sounds to me like voices speaking very faintly or I will suddenly hear a loud thump but then I'm puzzled because while I heard the thump, my dogs who sleep with me, didn't....and they are very alert dogs. I thought either my house was haunted or I was losing my mind because I don't hear these things any other time except when I'm in bed trying to go to sleep. My doctor said it was an inner ear thing. Nothing serious, nothing fatal...some people have it and some never do. So I began using white noise in my bedroom. I have a fan that runs all the time and if that doesn't seem to do the trick, I turn on Pandora and it tunes out the noises. While I still hear it from time to time, it helps tremendously for me to know that the noises I'm hearing are all (literally) just in my head.
My mom lives with me and does the same thing. I got her to sleep in another bedroom that was attached to mine and left a light on. She is now back in her own room and doesn't worry or hear/see as much. She doesn't even leave a light on anymore. She's 87+.

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