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How can we make her feel safe? She is very afraid at night. She is 86 and moved to Independent Living after living in her home for 60 years. She started hallucinating in her home, so we moved her to my sisters. That worked for a while, but it was extremely difficult for my sister and her husband's marriage. My sister found a wonderful Independent Living environment for her. Mom loves her apartment, but the hallucinations have begun again. She believes she is being watched and filmed and then she says the footage is being played back to her. She is extremely terrified and does not want to stay there. These hallucinations began in her home and now on to her new living experience. What can we do? We realize that we can not convince her that her experiences aren't real. We have tried so many different things. It seems that her fears from childhood have now become her reality. It seems that the hallucinations become more apparent when she has slept all day and can not sleep at night. My sister is going to try and keep her awake all day so that she can sleep at night, but my sister cannot do this on a daily basis as she has a job. I live 6 and 1/2 hours away. Would medication given at night to help her sleep resolve any of this? She has started to see a geriatric primary care physician. We are at a loss and feel so helpless. What a terrifying way to live. Does anyone have any suggestions? Right now, it seems the only thing to do is move her back to my sister's, however, that leaves mom home alone all day with no social interaction. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated.

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P.S. to Jane - I agree completely with SunnyGirl: Your mother should be in some kind of assisted living/memory care situation where caregivers are there 24/7/365. It is too risky to do otherwise. It will mean temporarily turning your lives upside down, and your mom may not go willingly. But it is the only safe environment for someone at this point in their life. I'm very sorry that your family is going to have to go though what I endured earlier this year. Having no relatives to help, I relied on a couple of social workers who were a great help for everything from legal information to resources. Ask your mother's PCP for referrals to a social worker, a neurologist and a psychiatrist. Wish I could make it easier for you...
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To Jane with respect and sympathy: Sometimes the problem cannot be solved except with drugs. Lewy Body Dementia and other dementias are fatal and irreversible, and the hallucinations will only increase and worsen. If you have to, you can get mental health power of attorney BEFORE the diagnosis and then mix the prescription in with the food if your mother refuses medication as mine has. A lifelong health nut who refused aspirin for the past 50 years let alone pharmaceuticals, she nevertheless had 8 different symptoms, all of which were relieved by two medications once we started mixing it in her food.
All of you who answered this question need to understand that dementia affects the brain and can cause hallucinations. No amount of good intentions, positive or rational thinking, nutritional supplements, holistic practice or anything else will stop those hallucinations except for pharmaceuticals prescribed by a psychiatrist. You cannot wish them away. And they are frightening. So once you've ruled out physical causes such as urinary infections, take your loved one to a neurologist or eldercare psychiatrist or other qualified medical specialist who can properly diagnose the dementia and prescribe medication to control hallucinations. They will prescribe the smallest dosage to treat the problem. Any possible side effects are superceded by the positive effects in not being constantly afraid and flooding the body with chemicals produced by extreme feelings of constant fear.
Jane, you need eldercare specialists like a neurologist to help your mother. Good luck to both of you. I hope you can convince your mother that the whole point is to mask the symptoms which cannot be cured or alleviated otherwise.
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Jane -that is what my mother is on and it works well, though she was resistant to taking it for quite a while Do keep in touch and let us know how it works out.
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I want to thank everyone who has responded to my query. My mom's pcp has prescribed her Risperidone. Unfortunately the meds arrived and my mom read all the information that came with the script. She feels the meds will only mask "what is really happening" and not solve the problem. I hope we can convince her to take them. We had never heard of Lewy Body Syndrome, however, we are going to check into that. Thank you all for your suggestions. I am praying that the Risperidone works.
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You posted that your mom has been diagnosed with dementia and that she is on medication for depression. I'd add that except for the early stage of dementia, it's very risky for a dementia patient to live alone. Their mind starts doing odd things, they become confused and anxious. It's quite scary for them. I would suggest that she have around the clock supervision, especially due to hallucinations. They can cause the person to do strange things, like leave the house or hurt themselves from fear.
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My husband was put on an antibiotic for UTIs for six months after having four within three months and then after a couple of months he started having hallucinations. They tested him for a UTI and it was negative so they put him on an anti-psychotic drug. He thought they were videoing him, standing over him with baseball bats and there were people with guns. It took a couple of weeks to regulate his emotions and the doctor is watching it closely. Hopefully this will take care of his hallucinations and make him more comfortable...
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My 88 year old, physically healthy mother was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia two years ago. It's similar to Alzheimer's, but also includes palsy (her hands shake slightly when she's upset) and hallucinations which have frightened her. The only thing that will help the hallucinations is antipsychotic medications under the care of a psychiatrist.
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My 92-year-old mom starts with the hallucinations when she has severe pain from her arthritis or has an infection of almost any kind. She has fallen several times when having hallucinations because she's trying to "get rid" of the people in her room, and lashes out at them. Her geriatric doctor and the orthopedic doctor finally saw the pattern and agreed with me that this was what was happening. She tends to be a night owl as well, with the bulk of these happening in the evenings and middle of the night, so a sleeping pill definitely helps.

Also, does your mom have any sight loss? My mom has macular degeneration and the docs have all agreed that she has Charles Bonnet Syndrome--where the brain decides to send out its own images because it's not receiving the image from the eye. After a lot of consultations with both the geriatric doc and the eye doc, they agreed that the hallucinations are probably a manifestation of the CBS. She still might see things when she's feeling "fine," but is able to discern whether it's real or not. When the infection or pain comes along, poof...no more ability to think rationally.

Good luck...I sincerely hope you can find some answers.
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I know that you can get stuffies for children that are infused(aroma therapy) with lavender or other calming scents. This might help
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I agree with Golden23. I would immediately explore medication options. If her primary is not on top of this, with your mother's level of extreme mental distress, I'd ask for a Psychiatric referral. It sounds like she is experiencing significant psychic pain. I'd treat it as an emergency, as you describe her as being terrified.
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Whenever my mind is running in circles, I found the TV to be my best choice as it is a good distraction. Of course, it depends on what your Mom enjoys watching.

The Hallmark channel has the "Golden Girls" comedy series [it will back back on in January] and I will watch that to help me go to sleep... now I am of the age where I can relate to the show :)

When my Dad use to get upset over his confused thinking, I use to turn on the weather channel and that would help snap Dad out of his confusion for awhile. If there is a tornado chaser show on, even better. His hobby was weather watching.
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Around the time she was diagnosed with vascular dements, my mother was having delusions/hallucinations of various kinds, including smoke coming from the ceiling vents that would kill her. Your mother has been diagnosed with Alz/dementia. I suspect her hallucinations are due to her disease and that she needs meds for them. Mother was put on anti.psychotics and her delusions/ hallucinations disappeared. Talk with her geri PCP about her and meds. There is no talking anyone out of delusions/hallucinations, The other suggestions are great - always check for a UTI, and anything that soothes/reassures her would be good. If they are is enough, that would be wonderful. I don't think the antidepressant will look after the hallucinations. Mother was first put on an antipsychotic for the delusions/hallucinations, which worked, then she was found to be depressed and put on an antidepressant later which worked too - for the depression. Keep us updated! ((((((hugs)))))
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Just remembered - anxiety is a major factor - it heightens the senses, so perhaps focusing on that as well as changing the sleep time are possibilities. I like the idea of nightlights, and pretending that the cameras have been disabled.

I think you're on the right track; it's just finding the right solution, or combination there of.

Good luck.
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I agree that if she will stay busy during the day that will help. Yesterday, she slept all day and I think that is a big part of the problem.
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She has not taken any ambien. We have told her to keep some lights on and to play soft music in the background, but I am not sure she is doing that. Your idea of asking the staff to check on that is a good one. I think we will try the stuffed animal idea, that might work also with the soothing fragrance. Thank you.
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My mom has been tested for UTI and does not have one. We have set up her bedroom like it was at my sisters. The problem is she thinks she is being watched and video taped. She thinks the sprinkler's in her ceiling are where the camera's are. My sister is going to put painters tape over the ring where the sprinkler is attached to the ceiling to see if that helps. Mom sees lights and we think it could be reflecting light. However, this morning she is seeing the video being played back at her. She has started a medication 3 weeks ago for depression and so we know we need more time for that to hopefully start working. Mom did have the maintenance people come in to her apartment to look for hidden cameras and after that she said it all stopped. However, now she is hallucinating again. We believe she lays in bed at night waiting for the lights and taping to begin. She is very terrified. Thank you for your response.
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First, is she taking Ambien? It can cause intense hallucinations. If she is taking it pursuant to medical advice, ask for a recommendation for something that isn't as hallucinatory, preferably something natural.

Second, I can't offer any advice on meds for sleeping; I've only taken Melatonin (which had no side effects for me) and something like Nytol - but a few times was enough of that b/c of the groggy hangover. I have taken herbal teas; I've used soft, soothing music - that's been the most helpful.

I also look at relaxing photos of gardens or crafts before I go to bed.

Second, I think changing her sleeping and awake hours is a good suggestion, but perhaps do it an hour at a time - help her up an hour earlier during the day until the day and night patterns are normalized. Speak with Admins at the IL and see if they can help make this shift.

Perhaps if they can keep her busy with activities and socialization during the day she'll be tired enough to sleep at night.

Third, I think it's normal to have fears in childhood, but parents are there to comfort us. Now she's in IL and doesn't have that comfort. Perhaps you could talk to the staff to see if there are ways they address this with others, or ways in which someone can periodically stop by her room to comfort her at night.

You might even get a "huggie" - a soft, fluffy animal pet; it might help console her.

Have you tried asking one of the staff to play a soft, comforting "easy music" CD for her at bedtime? Harp music, lapping waves, rustling trees...those kinds of CDs are available for bedtime relaxation.

Fourth, I would contact the geriatric physician and raise the issue.

Fifth, I also use aromatherapy. I have a new herbal facial cream with delicately blended myrrh, frankincense, rosewood, lavender and other fragrances. It's so soothing that it helps me fall asleep very quickly.

I used to and sometimes still take a jar of cinnamon from my spice cabinet when I go to the ER, as well as my precious jar of another eastern spice blend of skin cream. It helps me relax.
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Has your Mom been tested for an urinary tract infection [UTI]? That will cause hallucinations. My Dad kept seeing ants in his apartment and in his food. Caregiver took Dad to the doctor, yep UTI, antibiotics helped.

In the meantime when Dad was talking about ants, to smooth his thinking, I was telling him we are having problems with sugar ants [even though we didn't]. That made him feel better. Even the Staff came in and placed ant traps, and that also helped for the invisible ants.

If it turns out not to be an UTI, then ask her primary doctor for something to calm her nerves... if she doesn't like taking pills, tell her they are vitamins.

I had placed a lot of night lights around Dad's apartment, as he was use to that when he lived at home. I also had his bedroom furniture set up the same way he had at home, so when he would wake up at night, he felt more comfortable.
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