advice on 'imaginary people'

Zadok

Registered User
Mar 15, 2006
68
Kent
Over the last few days mum has been telling me about a lady who has come to her door. This lady knew all about mum , she said, and from what I can tell it sounded like a bad dream. Now mum lives alone in a small close and has carers and me three times a day. The neighbours also look out for mum and I'm certain there hasn't been a real lady calling that isn't a member of the care team.
I tried reasoning, I tried explaining about dreams that do seem very real. In the end as mum was so very distressed yesterdayI resorted to a lie: I said she wouldn't come again because I'd spoken sternly to her and told her not to call. This has appeared to work and we've had no more talk of the lady.
Today mum has begun asking to go 'home'. I've read about this on TP, so I knew this might come, but has anyone experience of 'imaginary visitors'?
 

mel

Registered User
Apr 30, 2006
1,656
63
Sheffield
Hi Zadok
Yes ,When mum was living at home she often had students coming in through the front door ,using the toilet and taking the toilet rolls and soap as they left through the back door(we always found the soap and toilet rolls in her handbag)....the Queen passed by her house with her bodyguards.....people were always visiting and having a cup of tea but mum put a stop to that because they were always stealing her money and belongings...We used the same tactic as you and said no one would come again as we had the locks changed.........but they still managed to get in!:confused: :confused: :confused:
And yes....even in her own home she still wanted to go home(A safe place in her memory somewhere)
Wendy
 

Michael E

Registered User
Apr 14, 2005
619
Ronda Spain
We have lots of 'visitors'.

I cannot always see them but for the most part they appear to do no harm and if asked about them I either 'missed' them or agree...

It can be a worry at first but in the end - well who knows? Imagination is a wonderful thing and I suspect the 'visitor' fill some empty space and time..


Michael
 

Áine

Registered User
Feb 22, 2006
994
sort of north east ish
dad had lots of imaginary visitors when he lived at home. though technically they probably weren't visitors because they lived there. the most troublesome were a couple of women who would sit in his chair all day and fall asleep. They were mostly harmless so I just sort of let it be .... asking more about them, or reassuring dad about them being Ok. The worst bit of it was when he'd leave his front door open for them because he was afraid that they didn't have keys and wouldn't be able to get in and out otherwise.

The problem I have at the moment is with my brothers visiting or not visiting at the nursing home. Dad was really upset the other day because none of them had been to visit. Thankfully this resolved now, as he tells me that my brother came yesterday to see him. I sort of suspected he had because dad was showing me a photo (of me) yesterday and telling me it was my little sister. As an only child I find it fascinating to suddenly have so many brothers ..... just wish they'd lend a hand with clearing his house out :confused:
 

connie

Registered User
Mar 7, 2004
9,519
Frinton-on-Sea
Aine - what a difficulity you must have - so hard to go through alone.

Zadok - what mum is experiencing is quite usual. We all find our own way of coping with it.

I always find it strange that Lionel insists that he has " 2 big carers - morning and evening" One of them is always me. He just does not recognise me in this role.

I don't think I like the "big"......I try so hard to maintain my weight. ( just a me thing)
 

Dave W

Registered User
Jul 3, 2005
268
60
Bucks
Hi, come on in ...

.. yep, I've had the whole visitors thing too. A black family living in a bathroom she didn't have any more, me aged 14 coming round for tea and complaining about me (interesting one that), a little girl who kept fiddling with the sewing machine, gypsies, tramps and thieves (by that name or others) several times over. Once capped off with 'why do they come to see me here when I don't live here?'.

With my Mum, the introduction of a low dose of an anti-psychotic (can't remember which one) seemed to make most of this behaviour go away, but they seemed to be hallucinations rather than delusions. She could describe the people physically in quite small detail. In her head, she could obviously 'see' them.

If there are already carers (and presumably a CPN?) involved, I'd suggest you discuss this with them, as I get the feeling that medication may be the best solution, particularly if she's distressed by it. (When it's harmless and non-distressing, I'd agree with the others that playoing along with it for a few moments and changing the subject is the best approach.)

I'm afraid reasoning and explaining probably won't get very far - she's probably not in a state to respond to this approach right now.
 

Zadok

Registered User
Mar 15, 2006
68
Kent
Imaginary friends/or otherwise?

Thanks for all the replies. Mums 'lady' seems to have disappeared for now, but its good to read some helpful hints and feel less alone in all this.
 

Áine

Registered User
Feb 22, 2006
994
sort of north east ish
Dave W said:
.Once capped off with 'why do they come to see me here when I don't live here?'.
:D They're priceless sometimes aren't they Dave. If my dad didn't make me giggle about something like this once in a while I'd never cope with it at all ;)
 

mel

Registered User
Apr 30, 2006
1,656
63
Sheffield
Hi Áine,
Hope your dad and your brothers are ok!!!!(hope that doesn't offend);)
Mum often talks about her "boys" not coming to see her(my poor brother is not included in her "boys"):confused: He seems to be her husband at the moment who's "gone off" with His "fancy woman"(in reality his wife of 25 years!!).
You hit the nail on the head....You have to have a giggle....otherwise you couldn't cope!!!At least our lives are NEVER dull ....I never know from one day to the next who I'm going to be.....tonight mum said she was going to close the café (this was when I was cooking tea) because I was working too hard and she likes her staff to be happy!I thanked her for that and she toddled off quite happily:eek:
Wendyx
 

Kayla

Registered User
May 14, 2006
621
Kent
Imaginary Friends

My mum had a noisy family of boys who lived in her back bedroom and she didn't like to disburb them. She thought we had put them there! She also had "black men" sitting on her lounge floor watch ing TV and she rang to ask what she should do with them. When she got so distressed because she thought my father(who had died) had come in through the front door and gone upstairs, but wasn't there when she looked we had to tell the GP. She was prescribed Haliperidol which definitely helped. However, when she went into a care home it was stopped and I have a suspicion that she broke her hip, trying to step over some imaginary men on her floor. It is a relief to know that Mum isn't the only person to have hallucinations!
 

Dave W

Registered User
Jul 3, 2005
268
60
Bucks
A common problem

I get the impression it's quite a common problem. From observation, sometimes I've wondered if Mum is making up a story that gives her a 'rational' explanation for seomthing that enables her 'not to be the one with the problem' - only her rational explanation strikes us as just surreal. (Both the hospital and the home have frequently been 'this school' - she used to work in one, so it comes across as historic projection into a world she knew and felt confident in, but this is amatuer psychology on my part).

Other times, she has definitely been hallucinating, which is quite scary. Worth talking to the CPN about, both in terms of possible changes to medication and ways of handling it (disagreeing with her probably isn't going to get very far, as it will definitely be 'real' to her).
 

rummy

Registered User
Jul 15, 2005
700
Oklahoma,USA
My Mom started hallucinating just last night. She called me three times to ask where had all the people that had been in her house gone to. Then she was quite upset that I called my Dad, Dad. She thinks he is in the hospital and a strange man is taking care of her.
You know these things are going to happen but when they do it always catches you off guard! All I could think of to say at the time was " I don't know". I hope today will be a better day and I can leave town without guilt ! ( not likely, but oh well)
Debbie
 

Kayla

Registered User
May 14, 2006
621
Kent
Imaginary People

I went to see Mum this morning and took one of my dogs which really made her smile and her conversation was quite lucid today. She interacted with the dog and remembered when we went to see the puppies at three weeks old. Then she told me that Dad's family weren't very helpful when she woke up this morning. She asked for help and Dad wouldn't help her, (he died six years ago) fortunately the nurses came and helped. My Dad dived under the bed before they could see him! At least Mum seemed quite happy today and she didn't cry at all. It must be upsetting to see a loved one in imagination but they don't talk or respond to you. It helps to know this is quite a common problem, but spooky all the same!
 

Zadok

Registered User
Mar 15, 2006
68
Kent
Rational?

Dave W said:
I get the impression it's quite a common problem. From observation, sometimes I've wondered if Mum is making up a story that gives her a 'rational' explanation for seomthing that enables her 'not to be the one with the problem' - only her rational explanation strikes us as just surreal. (Both the hospital and the home have frequently been 'this school' - she used to work in one, so it comes across as historic projection into a world she knew and felt confident in, but this is amatuer psychology on my part).

You might say this is amatuer psychology on your part but I think you are right and very perceptive! My mother has always had the knack of turning something around so it wasn't her fault.....now its an art- form! I'm sure I'd be looking for rational explanations too if I were her.
 

Áine

Registered User
Feb 22, 2006
994
sort of north east ish
yes, that makes sense

Dave W said:
I get the impression it's quite a common problem. From observation, sometimes I've wondered if Mum is making up a story that gives her a 'rational' explanation for seomthing that enables her 'not to be the one with the problem' - only her rational explanation strikes us as just surreal. (Both the hospital and the home have frequently been 'this school' - she used to work in one, so it comes across as historic projection into a world she knew and felt confident in, but this is amatuer psychology on my part).
I think that too Dave. Dad was a chemist and also did some teaching. He also talks about the nh as a school, and talks about the staff nurse as the chief chemist. It does seem an attempt to make sense of a very bizarre situation. Dad often talks about the main lounge at the nh as a railway waiting room ....... it sort of makes sense, all these people sitting around not really doing anything other than ..... well .... waiting really.
 

Áine

Registered User
Feb 22, 2006
994
sort of north east ish
mel said:
Hi Áine,Hope your dad and your brothers are ok!!!!(hope that doesn't offend);)
doesn't offend at all Wendy :)

dad is quite a bit better at the moment. They adjusted his medication (again!) and he seems quite a bit brighter. One of my brothers popped in yesterday and brought him a book about Holland and one of the others was around at the weekend, chatting to dad about his work. It's very seductive ...... I find myself really wanting to know how these guys are when he tells me they've been to see him :confused:

I do hope the medication doesn't take them away :eek:
 

Kayla

Registered User
May 14, 2006
621
Kent
Imaginary Friends

My Mum has also talked about "the School" and the "children in my class" when she was still at home and in her nursing home. She has never been a teacher but has taught in Sunday School and run a Brownie Pack and two Guide Companies(not all at the same time). She refers to the nurses as "kids" and has complained that she has been in this work for months and they haven't paid any wages yet. The bedrooms and lounges are offices sometimes. It is always a surprise as to what state of mind Mum is going to be in and quite hard to be prepared. It is good to know that others have similar problems and I'm not alone.
 

Michael E

Registered User
Apr 14, 2005
619
Ronda Spain
My Mom started hallucinating just last night. She called me three times to ask where had all the people that had been in her house gone to. Then she was quite upset that I called my Dad, Dad. She thinks he is in the hospital and a strange man is taking care of her.
I have this every day now - and most of last night! I am 99% certain that Monique genuinely believes the people are there. In the wee small hours of the morning when she is demanding 'where have they gone?' I do sometimes tell her she has been dreaming and after some puzzlement she appears to accept this - well did last night and we both got some sleep. However normally I say they have just left and that works well too except she seems sorry they didn't say goodbye!

The wrong words syndrome I think is different.. Quite a bit of Monique not being able to find the correct word to describe a object.. It is normally pretty easy to 'guess' what the noun is she wants and I supply it and its accepted... Also as people get older there are memory lapses 'senior moments' anyway and when you add AD to that... well...

I really do not find the lack of recognition hurtful or worrying. I seem to be alone in this on the forum so maybe it says more about me than Monique..

Michael
 

Lila13

Registered User
Feb 24, 2006
1,342
My mother had several imaginary friends over the last few months, and it was sometimes difficult to know which were real people.

One evening two of them told her to go and meet her at the pub (where she'd never have agreed to go if real life people had invited her), and she went out in her nightie, had a fall, nearly got run over (I felt sorry for the driver but she didn't) and had to be taken to A & E again, physically not seriously hurt.

The nurse to whom she was telling this story thought it might have been burglars phoning. Anyone could have got into the house pretending to be a nurse, carer, social worker etc. But she said, no, it wasn't a phone call, the message was "wafted through the air".

She generally knew that she and I were mother and daughter, but as for which was which ... When people she didn't know phoned to speak to me she introduced herself to them as my daughter. In the respite place I asked her if she could remember who I was, and she said "Oh I've sussed that out, I'm your daughter", but the next day told the carers "I am the Mummy and she is the daughter".

The last thing she said to me in the hospital was "bye bye Mummy" (only echoing me that time).

(I never heard the word "daughter" so often before this illness started, I didn't qualify as a carer, but whenever anything went wrong, "where's her daughter?")

Lila

(not a daughter any more)