How do you cope with delusions and hallucinations?

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My mother is in mid-stage dementia. She has been having delusions (people are coming in and taking her stuff and leaving junk in its place) and hallucinations for awhile, but it's getting worse. This morning, she thinks the people next door have built a house against the fence, she can see all the way through it, and they're now doing something on our side of the fence. I don't know how to respond to all this. I typically say nothing, or something like "oh, wow." Does anyone dealing with this think it's better to agree with her? To go along with her hallucination or delusion in some way? I live with my mother and this goes on all the time. I want to do the right thing for her, but I could use suggestions from others who have dealt with this. Thanks.

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My mother has this and thinks that she is living in a vacation home. She also sees people outside doing various chores, etc. She is told that nothing is there but she says, why can't you see it? It doesn't seem to bother her, so there's not much we can do. She was on Alzheimers drug but it made her more moody so she is not on anything right now. I think that this goes the most with Lewy Body Dementia.
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Wow, my Mom hasn't been diagnosed with dementia but we've been going through the same thing. She thinks we have two identical houses and she keeps trying to find the one SHE lives in as its not the one I live in. (We live together) She hears all kinds of noises and thinks we are lying to her when we say no, we don't hear it either. My Son who is 15, is her scapegoat. No matter what goes on, its somehow his fault. I call her on those issues, but then she just gets angry and tells me I spoil my Son and don't believe her. I'm not going to punish my Son for something I know he didn't do!

The doctor seems to think that it was a reaction to Lyrica and that its just taking a while to clear out of her system. My thought is that we are talking about the beginnings of dementia and no one will talk about it.

I was just humoring Mom about the second house until she took off in her car and tried to find it. Then she got lost and I had to go rescue her. Its very difficult to deal with, especially when the person you are dealing with is a very strong personality.

I don't know that I have any advice, but I do totally sympathize with you!
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Reply to Issybeau
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I have the same experience with hallucinations/delusions with my 89-year-old French mother-in-law who lives with us and has dementia. However, her problem seems to be both visual and auditory. She believes that there are people going in and out of her room, stealing her things. She sees a three-story house from our backyard with some woman on the terrace that does not exist. We have a lot of birds (and crows) on our property... MIL doesn't think that it's birds but kids screaming at each other from the opposite sides of the fence and doesn't understand why they don't have the courtesy to get together. She also has asked if we have a sports stadium with tennis court behind our house, because she hears tennis balls. And her most frequent complaint is that neighbors are running a washing machine at all hours of the night, and it is preventing her from sleeping. We live far from all our neighbors and there are no tennis courts in the vicinity. I should add that she is hearing impaired and low vision.

My approach has been to ask her to show me where she thinks the noise is coming from. Even though I know she is delusional, I figure this at least validates her concerns. I also try to empathize with her and say that it must be very annoying or bothersome for her.

The issue for me is with her extreme paranoia and stating that family members or our housecleaning people are stealing her things. I really don't want to agree with her on that. She has accused my son of stealing her cigarettes on several occasions. As soon as something goes wrong or she loses something, her go-to place is to blame someone else. I won't buy into that. I'll ask if she needs help looking for the item. On a couple of occasions, I have directly told MIL that it hurts us when she says that we stole her things. Reasoning does not work with elderly with dementia, and especially if it is accompanied with these types of delusions.

Sometimes I truly feel that we are living on a funny farm, it really does a number on your head to be living 24/7 with a person who is totally detached from reality and immersed in a fantasy world of delusions. I can so relate to how tough it must be for you. My biggest advice is to take care of yourself, have adult conversations as often as possible with others, keep a sense of humor too. And make sure you get breaks to clear your head.

You sound like such a wonderful daughter. Good luck and bless your heart.
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Reply to sorryselma
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My mom has auditory hallucinations and paranoia, where she thinks people are looking in the windows (despite the fact that we bought blackout curtains for her room) and that she hears voices outside telling her they are going to break in.

I have on occasion asked her if she knows who the voices are, etc. just to try and understand, but she just says she doesn't know, she just knows they're out there.

It's no use trying to talk her out of it. Sometimes I do the same, like you, I just say, "Oh," and then change the subject.

I have at times also tried to reassure her that she's safe, and that everything is okay, but that also kind of goes in one ear and out the other.

It seems the more attention I pay to the delusions and hallucinations the more she seems to get agitated and dwell on them vs. if I nod or acknowledge in some way like, "Oh, really?" and then go on and change the subject or get up and start doing some kind of menial task.

Like this morning when she got up, she said she was scared, but didn't talk much about it. I said, "What are you scared of?" She didn't answer, and I got busy unloading the dishwasher. She started helping put the dishes away which for the time being helped get her mind off of it.

If it's before bed, and she's scared, I've been just trying to reassure her that the doors are locked, and that we're here too, and that it's okay to go and lie down. Some days and nights are easier than others.

Hugs to you, I know it is mind boggling and sometimes it's hard to know what to do or say.
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Reply to FrazzledMama
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Is she by any chance taking Ambien?

Beyond that, I would have suggested playing along, but her delusions aren't auditory, they're visual. You could try by telling her you'll talk to the neighbors about the fence, etc., but if she's seeing rather than thinking the delusions, I'm not sure that would work.

You have my sympathy; this must be frustrating. I'm hoping others have more experience with this kind of situation.

I've only experienced it once, when my mother called me and told me a strange man was at her door and she wanted my father to come home. He was; he was the "strange" man. I think I offered to come out and stay with her until Dad returned, calling her back a while later and everything was okay. Fortunately, that delusion was short lasting.
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