As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, challenges remain for people in Prince George and other northern communities affected by dementia, many of whom are particularly impacted by the changes in care service provision and disruption in daily routine.
These changes may result in different symptoms and behaviours, including the development of hallucinations and delusions. Residents who want to learn more about supporting a person living with dementia with these symptoms are invited to the non-profit Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s free upcoming webinar “Delusions, hallucinations and visual mistakes” later this month.
People living with dementia can experience a wide range of delusions, such as the belief that someone else may be living in their house, and hallucinations, which are incorrect perceptions of objects or events that seem incredibly real to the person experiencing them but cannot be verified by anyone else. A key first step for caregivers is recognizing and controlling the variables which may put people living with dementia at an increased risk of having delusions or hallucinations.
Some tips for responding to delusions, hallucinations and visual mistakes
- Ensure adequate lighting: Inadequate lighting can create an ambiguity about someone’s surroundings and may contribute to paranoia and fears. For example, what may look like a housecoat in a properly lit setting could appear to be a person in a dimly lit setting.
- Keep routines and schedules consistent: Constant change to daily routine can create a sense of confusion, disturbance and imbalance in a person living with dementia.
- Determine whether a hallucination is bothersome: Hallucinations which create a positive reaction may not be important to address, so long as they do not promote any dangerous behaviour.
- Avoid arguing: People experiencing hallucinations and delusions are experiencing a different reality than the rest of us. Avoid arguing with their expression of these experiences or attempting to debunk them: such an argument cannot be won.
Attend a webinar
If you would like to learn more about the cause and effects of delusions, hallucinations and visual mistakes in people living with dementia – as well as additional strategies to respond to them – attend the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s webinar on hallucinations and delusions on Wednesday, June 24 at 2 p.m. The Society hosts free dementia education webinars every week for anyone affected by dementia or interested in learning more. The upcoming webinar schedule includes:
- · Research ready: Extending the cognitive healthspan (Friday, June 19, 11 a.m.): Local researcher Nathan Lewis shares the latest research on cognitive engagement as an intervention aimed at delaying the onset of cognitive decline
- · Delusions, hallucinations and visual mistakes (Wednesday, June 24, 2 p.m.): Explore strategies for responding to delusions, hallucinations and visual mistakes caused by dementia.
- · Living safely with dementia (Wednesday, July 8, 2 p.m.): Explore how people living with dementia and their families can live safely in the community.
- · Mindfulness Practice as a skill for self-care through the care partnering experience with Dr. Elisabeth Drance (July 15, 2 p.m.): A hands-on introduction to mindfulness practice and the benefits to you as a care partner and the person you are supporting.
To register for any of these webinars, please visit alzbc.org/webinars.
The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is here to help
The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is committed to ensuring that people affected by dementia have the confidence and skills to live the best life possible. First Link® dementia support is the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s suite of programs and services designed to help them. First Link® is available throughout the progression of the disease, from diagnosis (or before) to end-of-life care.
Connect to First Link® by asking your health-care provider for a referral or by calling the First Link® Dementia Helpline at 1-800-936-6033. The Helpline is available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Information and support is also available in Punjabi (1-833-674-5003) and in Cantonese or Mandarin (1-833-674-5007), available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.