I don't know if this is something I should tell her doctor. But, in the last year or so my MIL has mentioned things that we are not sure are problems or not.
A couple of years ago she swears there was a man in her bedroom. This happened twice. She truly believes someone was standing in the doorway of her bedroom looking at her in the night.
Also, about this same time, she started hearing music - a quintet of men singing the Star Spangled Banner - this has happened numerous times over the last two years. She waited a long time before telling us - I think she thought she was going crazy. I looked up auditory hallucination and it said it can happen when people lose their hearing and not to worry, so we didn't. They always sing the same song and it is always a male quintet.
About 6 months ago she started saying her water tasted funny. I tasted it - even from the cup she had in her hand - and it was fine. We double filter our drinking water and it is clean, clear and had no off odors or taste.
Now, recently, she asked if I smelled that 'chemical smell' and I told her I didn't smell anything. Hubby had been using paint thinner and did wash his hands in our sink - but our door were closed. I didn't notice anything at all - but she swore she smelled strong chemical of some kind.
Tonight she asked me to smell her butter dish. Said it smelled strange - like chemicals. I smelled the butter and it smelled fine. Maybe a tad like it was old - but she had not washed the butter dish before putting new butter in and I think I was smelling the older butter on the dish. She SWORE she washed the butter dish before putting in the new butter - but it was obvious she had not. I just took a paper towel and scooped out the butter and tossed it and washed her dish and gave her a brand new stick of butter.
Should I mention these things to her doctor? Anyone else have this sort of thing going on? She lives in the 'here and now' - if it is dementia - it is just beginning. She does have a problem with confabulation - is that a precursor to dementia? Just getting a bit concerned. Could she be making this stuff up to get attention?
Uti infection -- sometimes the elder doesn't realize or experience the same discomfort common in someone younger so she might still have one.
Dehydration can also trigger these hallucinations or delusions.
That has been my experience with my mom.
These other things happen sporadically - she hasn't 'seen' anything for some time - the quintet or quartet singing happens more often - but from what I have read - it could be her loss of hearing causing it. Sometimes she seems to hear just fine and other times she says she cannot hear - mostly when WE are talking :0)
I do think we will mention to the doctor about her smelling things and thinking foods and water taste funny. He probably should know that. Hopefully it is nothing to worry about.
She did have one medication change in the last 6 months - a pain medication. She doesn't take it very often - but I wonder if it could be some sort of side effect.
That would not explain the singing or thinking she saw someone - but the elderly can be affected by medications in adverse ways. I have looked up all her meds online and many have not so good side effects - constipation, nightmares, that sort of thing. When a person needs meds - they can be between a rock and a hard place.
I will have hubby take some notes along to her next docto's appointment. Or maybe send a letter ahead so he has time to read/think about it before he sees her.
I have heard that sometimes the sense of taste diminishes as a person ages and taste and smell are closely linked.
She can still taste - and often will say something tastes very good. So I don't think she smells odd things all the time. She won't be going for another visit until Spring though.
Thanks jeannegibbs - you always seem to have a good answer.
Hallucinations often accompany urinary tract infections in elders. If these have been going on for a couple of years that doesn't seem a likely cause in this case.
The sense of smell is effected by some kinds of dementia (and probably other disorders). Often the person is no longer able to smell much at all. It is hard to know whether this is a true hallucination -- smelling something that isn't there -- or a matter of smelling something that really exists but not getting the signals straight in the brain. The butter really is there, but it doesn't smell to her the way it smells to you.
Audio and/or Visual hallucinations are often one of the very first symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia. (I think they tend to appear later in Alzheimer's. I don't know about other kinds of dementia.)
I certainly don't mean to diagnose your mother with dementia! But I'd suggest watching carefully for any other "odd" behaviors, keep a little notebook, and discuss with her doctor. Short-term memory loss isn't always the first sign.
If these hallucinations bother her a great deal or if you suspect a uti, call the doctor's office about them. Otherwise, keep records and discuss with the doctor at the next scheduled appointment (assuming she sees her doctor regularly.)
Anybody can make things up to get attention. Most people would not make things up that make them sound "crazy" -- but anything is possible. Do you have any reason for suspecting this?