Stacy M asks: My dad has dementia and has been experiencing hallucinations. I try to tell him they are not real but he does not believe me and gets frustrated. What should I do to get him to believe me?
Dealing with hallucinations can be a very touchy subject. Do you agree and get wound up in the story or try to snap the person out of it? We have found that it is generally best to play along. People suffering from dementia tend to get agitated because they cannot express themselves properly. Telling them that what they clearly see or believe is not real is only going to agitate them more. Consider how you would feel if someone constantly told you that you were wrong and reminded you that your perception of reality was wrong.
This is not a matter of proving them right or wrong, this is a matter of keeping them calm. If your dad is experiencing a happy hallucination, what is the harm in playing along? If he thinks the Queen is in his living room, offer her tea. If the hallucination is causing stress, panic, or fear then help them escape the situation. If they believe a bad guy is in the house, then tell the bad guy to leave or take dad to another room where it is safe. This is a difficult topic because we are really never sure what the person is seeing or feeling. Living with dementia is hard enough, so the most important thing to keep in mind, is to always try to alleviate the stress and not agitate it.
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*All information is meant as advice based on personal experience and should not be referred to as medical data.