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My mum thi ks the tv is real


New member
May 18, 2020
My mum is recently diagnosed, although may have had dementia for a couple of years. Shes not seen a professional face to face due to Corona virus. The dementia nurse is in touch 2/3 times a week to see how we are coping. The Psychiatrist has recently prescribed Risperidone as my mum has hallucinations which are triggered by some tv programmes. She lives alone, last night I had to go to her house as she said they had licked her in and she was going to call the police or smash the windows to get out of the house. She begged to come to my house but i dont have a spare room so i stayed with her. Will these hallucinations go away?


Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
South coast
IHello @Colin12 and welcome to DTP

m afraid that thinking that things that happen on the TV are real and are actually happening in the house are part and parcel of dementia, because they can no longer understand the difference. On one occasion having watched one of David Attenborough's programs mum thought that jungle animals were prowling around her home and was terified, so at that point she had to have her TV watching severely censored. News, soaps and anything containing any sort of violence was a no no. It helped that soon after mum forgot how to use the TV remote and couldnt switch the TV on by herself.


Registered User
Apr 13, 2018
Hi @Colin12 and welcome to Dementia Talking Point.
My mum lived alone as well and was prescribed Risperidone by the memory clinic. The GP and I didn't think it was sensible as she was getting in a right muddle with her non-critical medication and couldn't be relied upon to take anything correctly. Does your mum have any help with taking medicines, housework etc? If not, now be the time to introduce it. If she is self-funding you can organise it yourself, if not contact your local Social Services. During the current crisis local authorities should have plans in place to help more vulnerable people. It might be worth looking on their website to see what's available, though I guess some authorities will be better than others.
Mum was convinced her neighbours were getting in and stealing things. Sometimes she said she saw them. I was never sure if this was a hallucination, mum catching sight of herself in a mirror (mum has very poor eyesight) or she said it to try and enforce her case about how awful they were. She sometimes said she saw my dad, but she knew that wasn't real.
In the end mum moved into care. The neighbour hallucination has gone, but she still has delusions. For instance that her mother is also in the care home, or that I have been locked into a cupboard there. Others will be along with their experiences, but I think they won't necessarily go away as such, just change.

Fiona F

Registered User
Apr 12, 2020
My mum (who has other hallucinations anyway) started thinking the people on TV were speaking directly to her & was interacting with them, as though it was a real two-way conversation. At first I felt didn't really matter because I thought it would be 'company' for her. Then it progressed to her thinking the people were actually in the room & talking to her, then their 'non-stop talking' started to get her down because she said she was putting off going to the loo when she was absolutely desperate, or put off going to bed until about 1.00am, because she thought it was very bad manners to walk out on them whilst they were speaking to her! She kept on about how she'd had good manners drummed into her as a child. No matter how much I told her the people on the TV can't see or hear her & were not actually in the room so it was fine if she wanted to leave the room to go to the loo, or switch the TV off when she'd had enough or wanted to go to bed, of course she wouldn't believe me. Her usual night-time hallucinations have got worse & the people in her bed & bedroom have now started making 'sarcastic comments' to her, & she sees people elsewhere in the house & during the day now.
So, I censor what she watches with me when I 'm there, but otherwise I've pretty much stopped her having the Tv on now, just radio, or I put a CD on for her. I've been in touch over the last week with her GP re worsening hallucinations & episodes at night of panic, confusion & disorientation (rather like Sundowning but during the night) - he's referred her back to the psychiatrist at the Older Persons Mental Health Clinic & she's going to try mum on some Memantine tablets. She currently takes Luventa tablets. We're just waiting for a nurse to visit to do a blood test first.
It's a shame not to be able to watch TV any more because it's good 'company' & keeps them occupied even if they can't follow what the programme is about, but if it's causing problems then the only option is to turn it off & hide the controller!


Registered User
May 10, 2020
Gosh reading these posts has given me something else to think carefully about how to manage once mum comes home. Like you, @Colin12 , I’m pretty knew to all of this, and didn’t realise how common this ‘TV being real’ thing seems to be. Mum’s entire social life before we went into hospital was sitting on the sofa and watching telly! And I’m sure that will be what she defaults back to - with no one there to censor what she’s watching. We’ll have to give that some thought!

One of the first signs we got that mum was far more than just ‘a little confused sometimes’ was when she told us extremely matter of factly that the cast of Emmerdale had been to visit her, and embroidered her slippers! She went into quite some detail about it, and it was clearly very ‘real’ to her. She doesn’t watch tv in hospital so we haven’t been able to monitor if it’s still happening. Time will tell I guess.

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
My husband was another who thought people on the TV were real and I monitored proh]=grammes he watched carefully.

I bought DVDs of programmes he had liked in the past like Dad`s Army and Only fools and horses as well as his favourite Andre Bocelli and they kept him happy and entertained. Even with these I watched with him just in case.

Fiona F

Registered User
Apr 12, 2020
Yes it does seem to be very common this thing of thinking the people on TV are really in the room & speaking to them. My mum doesn't have a DVD player & she wouldn't be able to understand how to use it anyway, only with my help, but it's a good idea to watch old favourite programmes together, then turn it off when it's time to leave. I'll have a look on Gumtree for a cheapie DVD player (when the lockdown is eased).