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My MIL has dementia, not sure what type or exactly what stage it is. Anyway, yesterday she told dh that she thought she heard someone in the woods screaming into their fist and someone knocking at her door at 3am. She's told me before that she thought I was knocking on the door at 11pm one night and that she heard it three times. The one time she opened the door no one was there. I'm not discounting that she could have very well heard something and it could have been something causing those noises but are dementia patients known to hear sounds that aren't there?

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Hallucinations are curious and interesting at the same time. They can be a part of dementia, but aren't always. While I would sit in the den crocheting and watching TV with my dad with Alzheimer's, my mom would move to the living room, sit in her rocking chair and listen to her favorite oldies music. Even though she kept the volume down, eventually my dad begin to sit forward in his chair and asked me fearfully who had come into his house. As time marches forward, my mom had to give up this enjoyment as the stress it cause my dad accelerated to an uncontrollable level. Although this didn't happen with my dad, with some folks, you have to get rid of or cover up mirrors because when they see their own reflection, they think it is a stranger in the house. With the exception of a small mirror attached to the wall in the bathroom, I've noticed they have very few if any mirrors in memory care or Alzheimer's units, probably for this reason.
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For several years before my Dad was diagnosed with AD, he very often made comments that he was abruptly awakened early in the morning by either the telephone ringing or the doorbell ringing. This never actually happened, and he would say that whichever one woke him just rang once. I often think back and try to remember some of the odd things he said or did prior to diagnosis, and this was one of them. Visual hallucinations have been a primary symptom, and one of the very first symptoms, of his dementia but I think these auditory events were probably hallucinations also.
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Dreams of a deceased relative knocking on the door reflect a preoccupation with dying. My MIL dreamt she was walking down a long hallway (life) and did not know where to find her room (heaven). Yes, I believe they see a loved one reaching out for them in the end, and joyfully join them.
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Thanks for the responses! I just wasn't sure if this could be a symptom or not. She was diagnosed with dementia by a neurologist and was already on a dementia medicine before he diagnosed her. (honestly not sure why as it was her primary doctor who prescribed it to her but didn't diagnose her) She's on two different medications for dementia. She's not talking out of her head or anything, she's aware of what's going on so not thinking it's a UTI. Both times the noises happened late at night. I didn't want to write it off as dementia related without finding out if it's a possibility. I know she did have a dream about her father knocking at the door. The way she was talking about these two incidents though, she was awake. I don't know. She does live alone and could be nervous. She's only been living alone for a few months since my nephew moved out.

@Veronica91, I believe people near death see people too. My paternal grandmother, who died in 2011, told my great-aunt that she talked to my dad a couple of weeks before she died. He died in 2001. A week before her death, she told my SIL that my aunt, who died in 1992,(long before she and my brother ever met) told my grandmother that SIL was so pretty.

I'll probably get a better response from talking to the neurologist instead of her primary doctor.
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Beware any doctor who writes it off to just being old and won't look into it any deeper. One person above already mentioned a UTI. Infections can cause dementia-like symptoms, and should be treated. Even someone with one of the types of dementia can have worse symptoms depending on medications. There are some that should not be prescribed to a dementia patient. There are, sadly, doctors out there who act like they've never been ill or been care takers before and have zero empathy. Move on from one of those if you can at all. If you can't, then take evidence with you, to call out any trends or similarities, or themes so it's that much harder to just dismiss what you're saying as "emotional whining". Dates & times medication was given, dates & times of episodes, sleep patterns, eating patterns, toileting patterns. It sounds tedious and is, but ultimately it could be what gets you and your MIL the help she needs.
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Not often but rarely my mum asks me if I knocked on her door in the night? One time over a year ago she said someone was tapping on her window (second floor?) She hasnt mentioned anything lately but does have nightmares alot? My mum is on sleeping tablets,high blood pressure tabs,High cholestrol tabs,asprin,insulin and now aricept? no wonder they hear things?
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Things that go bump in the night. I have had mice that I swore were wearing hobnailed boots. I put a bird feeder on my porch and in the middle of the night there was a strange clanking and I looked out and found a big raccoon swinging on the feeder. Some things are imagination, others are real. Bpeople do slink around in the night. The elderly who can not ptotect themselves are very fearful and imagine every little noise is something to harm them.. Make sure the elderly have strong locks on their doors and windows and a fast way of communicating. Some people with or without dementia are delusional.
Some people actually see ghosts. it is real to them People who are near to death will often see or hear dead relatives which can actually be very comforting. I personally don't believe these spiritual visitors are hallucinations. What to me are hallucinations are mice running up the fridge or bugs creeping over the floor. The patient is usually satisfied if you chase the mice out and stomp on the bugs. of course sometimes the bugs and mice are real but that is another story. That si my humble opinion I hope others will share their stories.
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Just FYI, pstiegman, hallucinations generally come in later stages in Alzheimer's, but in Lewy Body Dementia they are often the first noticeable symptom.

Do these episodes always occur at night? Could they be dreams? Could she have a UTI?
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Like the others suggested, talk to her Dr. But my dad had dementia due to hepatic encephalopathy (but still, it was dementia) and he thought he heard all kinds of things. People whispering in his room, my mom's voice (she's deceased), my voice....These progressed to full on hallucinations over a period of just days. Most of my dad's hallucinations were fear-based. Someone coming to get him, someone plotting to kill him, people coming in his room at night, etc.
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First I would call the MD and ask if this is a medication reaction or if it is dementia, get a CT done on her head with a follow-up by a Neurologist who specializes in Alzheimers. Staging is complex, but hallucinations are later in the game.
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Yes, but saying "it's dementia" is not the real answers. Her doctor needs to help sort out if these hallucinations are from medication combinations, side effects, or sundowner's syndrome, or an indicator something else serious is happening with her. My mother (76) also has visual & auditory hallucinations, and I cannot wait to get her nearby to attend the doctor visits with her and get to the root of this. She insists quite stridently and loudly that she DOES NOT have dementia, but I'm afraid the evidence will be to the contrary based on this and other symptoms. Work with a medical professional who will listen, take you seriously, and respect your observations. Take as many notes as you can with date/time of these hallucination events to go in there with data.
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