Everything is possible while you are dreaming. You can lead a different life, be a superhero, or be a new person. But there are other types of dreams such as nightmares. You can find yourself trapped in a world you believe you can’t escape while dreaming. Luckily or unfortunately, it’s all over when you open your eyes. But for some people, the visions from dreams don’t end when they wake up. Real life can have a different perspective for those that hallucinate. Hallucinations can be frightening and distressing for people of all ages but especially for older adults. Sometimes hallucinations in the elderly can hide severe conditions.
Most people conclude that the reason for hallucinations in elderly adults is either Alzheimer’s or dementia, but it can be caused by something completely different. If you continue reading our article, you will find the reasons behind hallucinations in the elderly. After that, you may be able to help when they start hallucinating.
How Do You Know If an Elderly Person Is Hallucinating?
Most people believe that hallucinating means seeing something that isn’t there. With increased age, the senses of people weaken. Because of this, the part of our brain which is in charge of those senses becomes hyperactive due to a lack of stimulation.
As a result of this hyperactivity, the senses get tangled, and they create an overreaction in the nervous system of older adults. These reactions can be significant and small. Depending on what is occurring, it might be hard to determine when a senior is hallucinating—even for them.
In order to be easily noticeable, the hallucination needs to be serious. When seniors hallucinate, their behavior changes, and they start seeing, hearing, and smelling things that don’t exist.
During an episode of hallucination older adults usually feel anxious, confused and forgetful. You might notice that your loved one is starting to become isolated, and a reason for this might be that they are feeling embarrassed because of what’s happening to them.
What Causes Hallucinations in the Elderly?
The reasons for hallucinations in elderly adults are many. It is a customary belief that they are caused by some sort of mental disorder, but this is not always the case. There are many causes to this, and here we are going to list some.
- Vision or Hearing Loss – As we mentioned above, our nerves weaken with age. But older adults who have more severe damage to either the eyes or ears, such as glaucoma or otosclerosis, have a more significant risk that their brain is going to become hyperactive. Because of damage to their hearing and vision, seniors are more likely to see or hear things that aren’t there.
- Psychiatric Disorder – Some of the conditions that cause hallucinations include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and other mental illnesses. If an older adult experienced illusions in their younger years, they might reappear if they succumb to one of the conditions named above.
- Dementia or Alzheimer’s – Despite not being the only cause, dementia is the most common cause of hallucinations in the elderly. The delusions are one of the first signs that an older adult might have either dementia or Alzheimer’s. If hallucinations worsen with age in patients with these conditions, they can even develop Sundowner’s Syndrome.
- Medication – Some medications can have the side effect of causing hallucinations. Knowing this, you need to be sure how the drugs that your loved one uses can affect them.
- Sleep Deprivation – Having enough sleep is essential for older adults and their overall well-being. So if they sleep way less than the recommended amount, they might experience hallucinations.
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