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Here’s an interesting one, I haven’t read about delusions like this before and am wondering if anyone else’s elder is experiencing them. As background, mom is 97, no diagnosis of dementia because she lives in a rural area, not a ton of doctors and when I suggest finding a new doctor to assess her “memory,” she angrily says she’s got enough doctors in her life, no more, just let me die, etc. (She never has been an easy woman to deal with.) She was even in the hospital a couple of months ago and I asked for a diagnosis while she was there, they assessed her and said it was “just sundowners.” Anyway, my mother sits in her apartment by the window all day long and watches out the window, often with binoculars (!!) and tells me she sees: a dead bird that has been sitting in that tree for days, not moving; dead birds on top of the snow that have not moved in days (these are all dead leaves that are laying on the snow or stuck in the tree, but she refuses to believe that, even if I go outside and touch one, pick it up and show her the leaf). That brown “fuzzy” thing in the snow over there is some kind of dead animal (it is mulch that got plowed up with the snow). The two white things up the hill are two dead cats, and that truck is going to run them over (they are two patches of snow). There’s a man with a red hat standing behind that truck and he’s been there for two days (it’s the spare tire and red tail light). There’s a woman standing on the porch of that house across the street, she’s slumped over the railing, wearing blue, she looks sad (it’s a blue flag). None of these images disturbs her, they just “are.” It doesn’t seem to register with her that in 97 years, she has never seen dead animals like this, so why now? They are not frightening her. She is not asking anyone to do anything about them, she is very matter-of-fact. I’m just curious if other people hear delusions like this.

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First of all, sundowners is a set of symptoms within dementia. People who go through sundowning symptoms do have dementia. Some medical professionals really, really try to avoid using the D word. I don't know why.

Hallucintions are common in several types of dementia. Often they occur in later stages. In Lewy Body Dementia visual hallucinations are often the first observable symptom.

Since these hallucinations are not bothering your mother, there is no need to "treat" them. Definitely don't argue with her about them! What she sees is her reality. If she were distressed that there are dead birds on the snow it might be worth trying to convince her there a leaves on the snow. But since she doesn't see this as a problem, don't correct her or contradict her.

By the way, in LBD the hallucinations are very often benign and don't scare the person seeing them. Once my husband (who had LBD) saw a dead body in our bedroom and calmly asked me to stay out until the CSI team arrived. Seeing a dead body would have been very disturbing for me, but was not for him. The bats he saw flying in our bedroom one night didn't bother him either.

I think you can assume that your mother has some kind of dementia, in spite of the local medical reluctance to face that. It may help you to read up on dementia, especially hallucinations in dementia. Perhaps the Lewy Body Association website might be a good starting point.
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Quint41, sounds like your Mom might need her eyes checked. Blurred vision can play tricks.
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For those that have Lewy Body Dementia, seeing animals that don’t exist is a hallmark of this type of dementia. Lewy is the 2nd most common type of dementia and in the early stages is quite different than Alz. or Vascular dementia.

My mom had Lewy and saw small totally non threatening animals, like cats and rabbits. They would tend to be in corners or in areas with dappled light. That they were “there” was very matter of fact and she did not try to pet or set out food for them. No sense of alarm either. She also had the “Lewy shuffle” which poses them for increased fall risk and can make them isolate themselves as they inherently know they’ve got issues walking. 

Lewy - for my mom - seemed to allow her remain pretty highly competent and cognitive in her  ADLs till back side of middle stages of  Lewy  - which is very different than what family experiences with a Alzheimer’s parent. So they get diagnosed later than perhaps they should be. Which is a problem cause Exelon works super well for early & mid stage Lewy and there are some psych drugs that should never ever be given to those with Lewy.

The Alzheimer’s Assoc is a huge presence in the US, so what Googles up in a dementia search tend to skew to all things Alz. But There’s lots of great info on Lewy on the UK sites, so you may just have to do a deeper dive in your search. I’d suggest you read up on Lewy and see if it aligns with what your mom’s doing. Should it seem to you that mom has Lewy, do a new post as there’s a few of us on this site who have had a Spouse or a parent with Lewy. It’s a different dementia adventure......
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