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nan getting worse need some advice


Registered User
Nov 29, 2014
My nan was diagnosed with vascular dementia approx 8 months ago but at the time she wouldn't except what the doctors were saying and said it was just forgetting through old age, recently she has got a lot worse, the main thing is she is hallucinating people that aren't there, she rings several times a day saying my son's there or my sisters kids or even her ex husband who's been dead 15 years. At first we told her she was getting confused and they aren't there but this makes her upset so we have started agreeing and going along with it. Are we doing the right thing?

Ann Mac

Registered User
Oct 17, 2013
Hi Peaches&moo - welcome to Talking point :)

What you describe seems to be, from reading the posts on here and from my own experience with my Mum in law, very common.

The first thing I am going to suggest is that your Nan is checked out for a UTI (Urinary tract infection) as any infection, but especially a UTI, can cause major additional confusion and delusions. Even with no other symptoms, its the first thing I check for when my Mil has an upswing in behavioural issues. With Mil, its not so much that delusions/hallucinations increase in number, its that they cause her more agitation and upset, and we get verbal aggression and disruptive behaviour as a result of them, when there is an infection present.

However, even without an infection, My Mil often says that there have been people in our house, usually wanting to know where they have gone. Often, she looks for non-existant children who she thinks have suddeenly vanished, or she asks for people like her late in laws, her late parents or late husband - she is utterly convinced that they were 'here' just a short time ago, insisting that I have made them a drink, or had been sat taling to them with her. Good advice, if its possible and if the delusions/hallucinations are not upsetting the person, is just to go along with them - to the sufferer, these 'people' being there are absolutely and totally real, and you may find that arguing they are not can cause a lot of upset and agitation. For us, I try to distract Mil - the reason for this is that she often used to suddenly 'snap back' to reality and remember herself that the person she thought was there had passed away, and then she would get upset because we had 'lied' to her - It doesn't happen as often now, but you will know if this is likely with your Nan.

If these 'people' are causing your Nan a lot of upset, and there is no UTI, its also worth checking if there is any medication that can help her with the delusions/hallucinations - 18 months ago Mils delusions were so bad and caused her severe upset to the point that we feared she would either have a heart attack or stroke, or put herself in danger by her reaction to them. Because of this, we felt that it was worth the risk of the potential side effects of such medication, in order to try and bring her some relief from the constant fear and agitation the delusions (combined with sundowning) caused her. The meds haven't stop the delusions completely, but for the most part, they have 'toned' them down so we don't get the same level of agitation and manic responses we used to have to deal with.

HTH, and good luck :)

Emily M

Registered User
Jan 20, 2015
You are not wrong to agree with her


My Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 18 months ago and, like your Nan, she would not accept that anything was wrong, but said that it was normal to forget things as you get older. She has gone from being rather forgetful and repetitive to having what can be described as having delusions and hallucinations. She refused to take any medication which is a pity because there is medicine that may slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s. I think I am right in saying that unfortunately, with Vascular Dementia, medicine cannot be given to slow down its progression.

Mum lives at home with her husband (my step father) but lately says that it is not her house and she is waiting to be taken home. She often says that her husband is not her husband, but another person with the same name. Today when I phoned her she said that “they” have gone out. It was only her husband that had gone out as nobody else was there. She often calls me by my daughter’s name.

When she says that she is not in her own home we tell her that she will be going home soon. We try to distract her and ask if she remembers what the room used to be like before the fire was changed, etc. This seems to work. Her husband used to argue with her over this, but has learnt to agree with her so as not to distress her. If she calls me the wrong name I do remind her but if she insisted on calling me the wrong name I wouldn’t argue with her.

I think the golden rule is, if your Nan gets distressed by being told she is wrong, just agree and go along with her.

I agree with Ann Mac that it would be a good idea to get her checked for a bladder infection (UTI), particularly if she has suddenly got worse. My husband’s father never had dementia, but one day became very confused and was taken to hospital. He was treated for a bladder infection and after a few days was allowed to go home and was back to normal.

Hope this is helpful.