Everyone knows that the primary symptom of dementia is loss of memory, but there are also a variety of other symptoms related to this disease. These might include a tendency to wander, eating non-food items, putting familiar items in odd places, being distrustful or violent toward others, acting “young” again, and more.
Hallucinations are among the lesser known symptoms of dementia, but they are real nonetheless and often present a unique difficulty to caregivers. If you’ve witnessed someone having a hallucination, you know it can be very difficult to talk that person back into reality.
Luckily, you don’t actually have to make a dementia person see the truth in order to calm them down. There’s a much better method that one of the world’s leading dementia experts will show you in the video below.
Teepa Snow, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA, is a dementia care and education specialist with a background in occupational therapy and over 30 years of experience, which has taught her a lot about how people with dementia think and what can be done to help them cope with this horrible disease.
Teepa’s tips for dealing with a hallucinating dementia patient may seem like simple things, such as deciding which side of the person to stand on or a slight adjustment in the words you use, but they can make a big difference in combatting the panic and emotional state of the patient.
The goal here is to acknowledge the person’s feelings and take control of the situation, letting them know that you’re going to take care of it and that they don’t need to worry anymore. This can be difficult for people who aren’t seeing the same hallucinations as the patient and therefore can’t relate, but it’s an important skill to learn.
In the video, watch how Teepa carefully controls the words, tone, and body language used in the situation to create an atmosphere of acceptance and reassurance.
We love Teepa, and we hope you enjoyed her sage advice in this video. If you’ve got tips for talking a dementia patient out of a panicked or confused state, we’d love to hear about them in the comments.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?