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Delusions, Hallucinations, and Illusions: What are they?

Uncategorized Oct 06, 2019

Welcome back Careblazer. There are so many confusing symptoms in dementia and today I want to talk about 3 symptoms in particular that many Careblazers ask me about- Delusions, hallucinations, and illusions. 

Delusions are very strong, fixed beliefs that do not change not matter how much evidence is presented that proves that belief wrong. No matter what is reality or what rational arguments are presented, there is no changing the belief.  This is common in dementia as well as other mental disorders such as Schizophrenia. 

There are different types of delusions such as Erotomanic, Grandiose, Jealous, Persecutory, and somatic. One of the most common types that occurs in dementia and can be really hard for the Careblazer is the jealous type of delusion. This is when the person believes that their spouse or partner is being unfaithful and accuses the person of being unfaithful. Another very difficult one is Persecutory, believing that someone is following them, spying on them, trying to harass them in some way. 

It’s possible for some delusions to be completely bizarre meaning that there is no possible way that their delusion can be true. So while believing a partner is being unfaithful may not be true, it is plausible. However, in bizarre delusions, there is no possible way it could occur. For example, someone might believe that a person has removed his internal organs and replaced them with someone else's organs without any scars or marks on the body. They truly are bizarre. 

Hallucinations are another symptom that can occur in dementia as well as other mental health disorders. These are perceptions that someone experiences in the environment despite them not really being there. Hallucinations are very vivid, clear, and, to the person having them ,are exactly like real, normal experiences. It’s important to know that the person is actually experiencing the thing that they are experiencing, it is not something they are making up even though you and I are not experiencing it. 

Just like with delusions, there are different types of hallucinations- auditory, gustatory, olfactory, tactile, and visual. One of the most common type of hallucinations that occur in dementia is visual. This is where the person actually sees something that is not there like a child, animal, or any other thing. 

Then there are Illusions. Illusions are something that is wrongly interpreted. So the person sees something, there is actually something there but they perceive it the wrong way. For example a person might see a wolf on the bed and start to get scared and agitated. However, what it really is a crumpled up pile of sheets that does kind of take the shape of animal and the person just perceived it incorrectly. 

All 3 of these symptoms can occur in dementia. It’s very important to know that with delusions and hallucinations, the experiences are very real and true to the person. It’s not something they have control over or are doing on purpose. If you try to disagree with them or tell them they are wrong, they will likely not believe you, might start to mistrust you even more, and this will lead to more difficulties for you. The best thing to do when dealing with hallucinations or delusions are to comfort, validate their feelings, and then redirect and distract when you  have the chance. 

When it comes to illusions- that is a situation where you can offer the correction, because it is just a misperception. The person does actually see something there, you see it too, and you can see that it is just perceived wrongly. So in the situation with the crumpled sheets, you can turn on the lights, walk over, lay the sheets flat and reassure them they were just a pile of sheets. 

Careblazer, there are so many confusing symptoms that occur with dementia and as confusing as they are to you, they can be incredibly scary for your loved one experiencing them. I hope this video helps give you a better understanding of what you might be seeing in your loved one.  

As always,  if you have any follow up questions or other questions you want me to answer in future videos, just leave them in a comment below I look forward to reading them. Until next week, Careblazer- keep up the good work. 


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