Seeing people who aren't there!

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Milly Mae, Mar 18, 2015.

  1. Milly Mae

    Milly Mae Registered User

    Mar 18, 2015
    My ex-mother in law has recently been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer's. she keeps seeing people who aren't there and its distressing her. Any advice as to how I can deal with this, it's heart breaking to see her so distressed.
  2. Lovetosing

    Lovetosing Registered User

    Sep 15, 2013
    West Midlands
    Hi Milly Mae , I haven't come across the situation you describe specifically with my two relatives who had/have dementia. However, does your mother in law suffer with macular degeneration in her eyesight as if so, there is a condition known as Charles Bonnet Syndrome hallucinations? My mother in law did suffer with this and it was nothing to do with her dementia (though perhaps it may be with other people). The Macular Society website will give you more info. on CB syndrome but I don't think will mention any link with dementia. Fortunately my MIL found it quite amusing when she could see animals that we couldn't see but they were very real to her. I can understand though that it could be very frightening, particularly when it is people you are seeing. Does she have a dementia professional involved in her care that you could discuss this with? Good luck. Hope you get some responses that can give you some helpful advice on how to deal with the distress this is causing.
  3. Goldi

    Goldi Registered User

    Mar 9, 2015
    Unfortunately hallucinations by dementia sufferers seems to be quite common.

    My dad has seen anteaters in the house, red Indians in the garden, an Egyptian family has moved in with him etc. I find the best way to respond is to act as if it is real and ask questions such as what are they anteaters doing or what type of red Indians are they and he feels he is being taken seriously and as a result quickly moves away on to another topic.

    Good luck
  4. katie1

    katie1 Registered User

    Aug 5, 2014
    Kendal Cumbria
    Oh Yes.... my Dad does that too! the house was full of people going to a meeting, some had come to stay on their way walking, there was a drunken man on the bathroom floor so he Dad said he couldn't go in there, Dad hid in the spare room under a small cover so that "they" couldn't find him, he regularly waved at people out of the window, and talked to "that lady over there", and asked as he pointed "whats her name then" can be very odd but also very waring especially at 1 a.m. after a whole day of it.
    He is in hospital now, where there are real people....but today he saw some little boys playing and a "big thing rolling along the floor"
    It just seems to be part of the condition.
    When Dad was at home we sometimes had to play along with it but not in a way to encourage it, just sort of acknowledge it and move on if possible. Like, go upstairs and say "Oh its Ok now the police have arrested the drunken man and he's gone now"
    or open the door and 'tell' all the people..."Look you lot, you can all go home now"
    Then go out for a drive in the car, a walk round the garden, a stroll down the street, a trip to the shop, just something else to break the obsession---------until next the time!
  5. Girlonthehill

    Girlonthehill Registered User

    Jan 1, 2015
    Do some research into Lewy body dementia. This is what my mother has and one of the main features is of hallucinations, either visual or auditory. Mum hears voices through her hearing aids! She also see things that aren't there both of which are extremely distressing and frightening for her. Lewy body is linked to Parkinson's although not necessarily with the same shaking symptoms.
    Good luck, it is a horrible thing to watch.
  6. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    Cover all the mirrors up, we have quite a few largish mirrors around the house and although my wife recognises my reflection as being me she no longer recognises her own reflection and will quite happily have a chat to it.
  7. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    If you can get hold of Martin Slevin's book "The Little Girl in the Radiator", have a read. His Mum used to talk to a little girl trapped in her radiator - when she moved to a care home, it moved with her. She also once saw a full Irish band performing that no one else saw. It took him years to understand that the little girl was his Mum in younger years, helplessly trapped in a situation she did not understand.
  8. elizabeth20

    elizabeth20 Registered User

    Dec 28, 2013
    My mum sees people too. It's unnerving at first but dare I say you kind of cope and I want to say get used to it. At first I corrected her all the time and told her there had been no gangs of youngsters at the door or a lady with lots of paperwork sitting on the sofa just minutes before I entered the room. It's a bit like the famous line 'I see dead people'

    Now I take the approach that what she sees is real and I just reassure her. The other day there were lots of people in the dining room in the corner and she'd had to shout at them all to leave she was going to call the police (she can't use the phone now). She was anxious so I told her that I would phone the police and that I would call earlier the next day just in case the 'people' returned.

    Some medications can make the hallucinations worse and I find with mum they occur more often during sundowning or after a long sleep as though she may have dreamt it. She has said and seen things though with both eyes wide open.

    You will find your own coping strategies eventually and there's always tons of help and advice here.

    Good Luck x
  9. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    Recently my husband has been seeing his brothers all six of whom are dead and gone. The two closest in age are the most frequently seen even though we sat at the bedside of one of them as he died.

    This is very sad and I feel great compassion for him but mostly I have to be honest with him as he wants to go and visit them. We bought a house four years ago close to where he grew up to give support to his remaining handicapped sister and this in a way has caused him to dwell on his earlier years.

    My only advice if you have to be honest is to do so then swiftly distract with something else eg going out, cup of tea, newspaper or TV - whatever is to hand.
  10. Owly

    Owly Registered User

    Jun 6, 2011
    Psychics see "dead people" so why not people with dementia too? People about to die often say that other people are in the room, calling them to come over....

    There is a an interesting book on that....The Unquiet Dead

    I think acting as if they are real, and telling them to get lost if necessary, is a great strategy. Who knows, you may not be able to see them, but they may be able to see and hear you.

    My Mum was a bit psychic in her lifetime. In her dementia years, she often thought that another man was in the house. She mentioned a little girl. She said her mum and dad were there, when she was in hospital.

  11. tre

    tre Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
    A few years back my husband saw dangerous dust outside the car when we were travelling. He also saw children in the house.
    These hallucinations went but recently he now sees "a lady over there crying". This canhappenanywhere in the house and distresses him. I try to distract him, which sometimes works. Going along with it does not seem to help him. I too am at abit of a loss and do not know how to deal with this.
  12. Perdita

    Perdita Registered User

    Jun 22, 2009
    Suffolk, Uk
    We had to stop mum watching television as she couldn't distinguish the people on there from the real people and it upsets her. I went out with the dog for a few minutes and she got really upset over something that happened on Hi-de-hi :( .

    She also has conversations with invisible people.
  13. tre

    tre Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
    My husband cannot watch TV either as it upsets him. He does not think the people are real but thinks anything mentioned relates to him and gets frightened. Radio news is the same and also any programme where voices are raised.
    I watch very little TV because of this but with Wolf Hall and Poldark I find if I put his favourite music on headphones and have the volume low with subtitles I can watch without him getting upset. In this case it is probably one of the few occasions where his having PCA which means he is blind now is an advantage.
    Interestingly the blindness does not affect the hallucinations but then they are all in the mind.
  14. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    It was probably the dire standard of the acting it was so bad it would make anyone weep.
  15. tre

    tre Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
    That made me laugh. Thanks for brightening up my day
  16. chrisdee

    chrisdee Registered User

    Nov 23, 2014
    I have this on an e-reader from the commonest source of e- books. Before I knew much, I thought everyone with AD has these experiences! sadly there can be worse things.
  17. Bernadette2

    Bernadette2 Registered User

    Mar 13, 2015
    Kevinl mentioned covering mirrors - could be reflections in windows too?
  18. Milly Mae

    Milly Mae Registered User

    Mar 18, 2015
    Thank you all for your advice. x

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