1. allan

    allan Registered User

    Mar 24, 2007
    Hello Everybody,

    This is the first time I have posted a thread on this site, was hoping that someone may be able to give me some advice.

    My Mum has been suffering with Dementia for the past 5 years. For the past 2 weeks she has been having hallucinations. She has been talking to her reflection in the mirror and having friendly chats with herself which was not so bad because she seemed happy enough and it was causing her no harm. But now she has started to argue with "that woman" in the mirror and is accusing her of stealing from her and coming into her home univited. My mum says that this woman is telling her what to do (telling her to clean up and do things). This is making her upset, aggresive and anxious. I have advised her to ignore this woman and not to pay her any attention. I have even taken up to covering any refelections in the house but it is as if this woman is still in her head. My Mum has been given Amisulpride tablets (50mg) and has been taking these for the last 4 days. Any ideas as to how long these tablets take to work?

    Mum goes to a day centre twice a week and is on the waiting list for more days but I don't know how long the wait is. I am in full time work and have 2 young children to look after so i worry about her safety when I am not around. My brother helps out but he lives in Blackpool and can't always be here himself as he also works and has children of his own.

    Would like to hear from anyone who has had the same problems or has any advice on what I should do. I am at my wits end :( . Any response would be gratefully appreciated.


  2. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    SW Scotland
    Hi Allan

    Welcome to TP. It must be so worrying for you, coping with your family and a full-time job, and having to care for your mum. Does she live with you, or is she still managing alone?

    I've no personal experience of hallucinations, but most people think you should play along with them. But that's difficult if your mum is on her own during the day.

    I think you should contact social services first thing on Monday morning and demand more care for your mum, either more day care, or someone to come to the house. It doesn't sound as if she is safe to be left alone.

    I'm sure someone with similar experiences will be able to help you more.

  3. connie

    connie Registered User

    Mar 7, 2004
    Hi Allen, welcome to TP. Please don't feel alone.

    Many of our members have been in your position. I am sure the medication will kick in soon. You are doing all the right things, so just go along with her for the time being.

    It is hard I know, but you have to try every different way to take her mind off the obsession. (Just another little thing to try your patience).

    It must be so, so hard for them. To live in a world where not much makes sense, and then we try to reason with them. In my opinion it does not work.

    Take care, I am sure you will receive some good advice soon.
  4. Kayla

    Kayla Registered User

    May 14, 2006
    Dear Allan,
    My Mum also has hallucinations and these were so distressing at first that her GP arranged for somebody to come out and assess her. Medication can make a big difference and also making sure it is taken at the right time. Regular mealtimes and bedtimes could also make a difference. The GP may need to arrange a carer's assessment for you, because it can be very frightening for a person to be alone while they are having hallucinations. It may be just a passing phase or the beginning of a new phase of the dementia.
    Sometimes I think Mum actually has some comfort from having imaginary people in the room, as she may feel that she has company. Now I think she is more upset when she isn't having hallucinations, as she doesn't like to be by herself.
    Poor vision and poor hearing may account for some hallucinations and it seems to be a symptom of vascular dementia, which is caused by mini-strokes in the brain.
  5. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    This morning my husband asked, again, if this house was just for us. When I said it was, he asked if everyone else had gone. I questioned him further, he said he sees lots of people, all strangers, but then wanted to stop talking about it and said he must have imagined it.
    I am not sure whether he really does have hallucinations, I do know he definitely has had one, or if he dreams.
  6. Nebiroth

    Nebiroth Registered User

    Aug 20, 2006
    I think it's more likely that your mum doesn't recognise herself in the reflection and therefore comes to the conclusion that it is another, actual, person. Apparently this isn;t uncommon, in fact on the assessment sheets there is a question about it, "Does the patient recognise their own reflection, or treat it as a different person?"

    However if this "person" is telling your mum what to do, that could be hallucination. Or it could be a delusion (a false belief), she could even be talking to herself and not recognising that either.

    It's so terribly difficult to tell between hallucinations, delusions and confusion.

    As to medications, then I think they can take some time to achieve any result and if there is a benefit then it would probably be gradual, in that your mum will hopefully be hearing less and less of the "stranger". Don't know if it would help with the reflection thing though.
  7. hawaii50

    hawaii50 Registered User

    Hi Allan
    So sorry to hear about your mum's hallucinations - it can be very disturbing. My mum has delusions/hallucinations - hard to tell the difference. She openly talks to the "children in the house" and they mostly disturb her because she is always telling them to get away home and leave her in peace. I tell her that they've gone now and just when I think she has accepted that she will turn round and say "well are you taking these weans (scottish word for children) away with you or not because I don't want them annoying me any longer)
    She also thinks someone sleeps in her bed. She openly talks to vases of flowers and gets annoyed at them because they wont answer back.
    Recently her neice gave her a soft toy which she now believes is real - talks to it all day and tries to feed it with food. However strangely it has also calmed her down.
    My mother is allergic to every drug under the sun so she is on no medication.
    It can be very upsetting and sad to watch this so I appreciate what you are going through. She even told me once that I needed to see a doctor if I couldn't see all the people in the house!
    I tend to just listen to her without much comment now except to say that I am sure they've all gone away. It can be very hard even to distract her attention during these times - and I can be there and she doesn't even see me - the imaginary people are more real than the real people sometimes. We have noticed increased delusional activity during the full moon!! I know people say this is not proven - but for five days during that time of month it can be really bad (like now!!) then it reduces to fewer times.
    Hang on in there and know that it is seems to be part of the AD journey for some people.
  8. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    Allan, you don't say whether your mother has AD, VID or mixed, but I just wanted to tell you that although the delusions seem to be SOP for people with AD, they also happen to people with other forms of dementia. My mother has stroke damage and although she doesn't, to date, see people who aren't there, she does have an ability to take some small thing and weave a highly complex, fantastic story about it, and she WILL NOT let go of it (how she can't remember if she's had lunch, but can remember these confabulations is beyond me).

    Must go, have to go to the dentist (boo hoo): will continue post later

  9. Michael E

    Michael E Registered User

    Apr 14, 2005
    Ronda Spain
    Alan hi,

    Monique talks frequently to the lady in the mirror - they seem to get on quite well. Which is lucky as she does not have that many friends any more. She also seems to have some kids around who spend time with her but they are always 'gone' when I in the room with her....

    I think these sort of hallucinations are pretty normal and not to be worried about. Only a problem if they cause distress I would think... I suspect one of the problems for people suffering with AD is that they are a bit lonely... sometimes.

  10. Nebiroth

    Nebiroth Registered User

    Aug 20, 2006
  11. Momx4

    Momx4 Registered User

    Oct 19, 2006
    I would agree with Michael that, as long as the delusions and hallucinations are not causing distress, you may just need to run with it and hopefully they will stabilise with medication.

    If they start to contribute to risky or dangerous situations, it would be worth seeking prompt help. E.g. my mother became very paranoid that someone was hiding in the house, who wanted to kill her. Her fear was such that she would try to get outside and would stand in the garage in the cold or run into the street. When we offered verbal reassurance or showed her nothing was there, it would be forgotten within 10-15 mins and the cycle would begin again.

    Similarly because Mom was unable to recognise/remember her day carers and couldn't identify familiar noises such as a vaccuum cleaner, she could get very frightened and then aggressive. I'm sure it is largely to do with the inability to make sense of the environment.

    What I did and still find useful is using her name and getting her to focus on me with direct eye contact...that would often break the pattern. I put my hands on her waist and she puts her hands on my shoulders and we just stand there quietly. These last few visits, there has been very little language and she is struggling to know who I am now so I'm glad we built up this little ritual of reassuring physical contact.

    Good luck and I hope the medication helps soon.
  12. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    SW Scotland
    Hi Momx4

    I like your little ritual. I'm sure it brings comfort and reassurance to both of you.

    Thanks for posting it, I'll remember it.

  13. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    I`ll go with the loneliness, Michael. This is one of my husband`s regular complaints. He thinks if he had places to go and people to see, he`d be better, but when we do go out he wants to come home, and when we do see people he says they muddle him up, so what`s the answer.
  14. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    I noticed my mother's imaginary characters disappeared when she had real-life people around in hospital or the respite home, but she still said she was only happy in her own home.
  15. Momx4

    Momx4 Registered User

    Oct 19, 2006
    Hi Lila

    It's such a remarkable thing about this illness that it varies so much from one sufferer to another. The complexity of the brain!

    My mother was far worse in hospital because of the unfamiliarity and she continued to have hallucinations and bizarre beliefs for a long time when she was finally admitted to the EMI unit. The staff were very good at dealing with it and they taught me the comfort ritual, which I mentioned a couple of posts above. I guess it has only really reduced for Mum as her illness has progressed into less connected and different stage.

    When we took Mum in to stay with us because we thought loneliness was an issue and she would improve or stabilise with us, it didn't really work out, possibly because my household was too busy - or maybe with hindsight we left it too late.

    As my mother's damage was vascular in the early stages, the changes were like drops rather than a gradual deterioration so there were quite sudden changes between managing, managing with help and not managing. The hallucinatory stage came on over a 24 hour period and I suppose persisted in its acute stage for about 12 months.

    We can just do the best we can do at any given time. :)
  16. Jessy

    Jessy Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    #16 Jessy, Apr 10, 2007
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2007
    A year ago my mother was having dreadful hallucinations. She was so bad I started looking for a care home. All sorts of people were living in her house. They were running a brothel etc. Any reflective surface was a real problem because she thought the image in the mirror or glass door was real and someone was copying her house. She would pop up and down waving her finger at them and telling them off. The 'lady' she saw in her bedroom mirror was stealing her clothes or copying her. She was hiding her door keys and consequently losing them. There were even people camped out in the street waiting to come in. As a result of all this mum was diagnosed with dementia. However, she also had B12 defficiency and was on beta blockers both of which can cause hallucinations. In addition, she has macular degeneration which can result in Charles Bonnet syndrome, although with that the person does understand that that the hallucinations are not real. She was given B12 injections, taken off the beta blockers and given a short dose of anti-psychotics. Within a few weeks her symptoms had subsided and a month later she was put on aricept. A scan revealed that she had no brain damage which is unusual for someone of her age.
    Aricept has been miraculous! Mum is independent, cheerful and performing in the normal range. Yes, she has some confusion and fogginess but I estimate she has improve by three years.
  17. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Dear Jessy

    What brilliant news. I hope your mum goes from strength to strength.
  18. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    SW Scotland
    Hi Jessy

    That's brilliant news. More evidence that medication does produce a dramatic improvement for some people.

    Hope all continues to go well. Thank you for such a positive post.

  19. sunny

    sunny Registered User

    Sep 1, 2006
    Mum has vas.D and hallucinations are quite a feature. Quite strange. I try to get her to concentrate and then they disappear, but when her brain is idling then that is when she has these hallucinations. They used to be quite frightening to her, but not now just "ordinary" ones like seeing fields out of a window when there are not or people in the room who are not there, usually relatives who are dead, animals. She talks about these things quite matter of factly. I just try to take her mind of them and talk about other things.

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