Ma’s many hallucinations and confusions are more frequent these days. You read all of the ‘helpful’ literature on how to deal with the ‘visions’ but at the end of the day when you’re experiencing it, all of that stuff goes out the window. I deal with them in different ways which could be the wrong way for all I know! All I know is that it seems to work for us… most of the time. One thing I’ve learnt is that every person with dementia is different, as we all are. That means that what works for one person won’t work for the other.
I heard Dr Allen Power talk on hallucinations and delusions and what he said made a lot of sense to me. He said that hallucinations and delusions are usually due to a person’s misperceiving their environment because of their different world view. Seeing and hearing problems can be misinterpreted with people misrecognising what they are seeing or hearing. I’ve seen this many a time with Ma. She is deaf on one side and her eyesight is now affected by wet macular degeneration and a cataract in one eye. For her, bedclothes not folded back neatly look like a body in the bed. Clothes left hanging on the door is a person. She can basically make something out of anything! Whenever I’m feeling frustrated with her visionary ‘visitors’ I try to remember that the ‘universe’ she experiences is different from mine. Such is her reality.
She does see some weird stuff though… just this morning we had the army people swinging off roofs out the back of our house. Across the road, the house is always falling down and getting put back up. A plane has also landed on our flagpole out the front! Trees fall down; things fall over; cars go down the road, one on top of the other; people appear where there are none; even the cat can jump through solid glass. There seems to be no logic involved it’s just what she believes.
One of the weirder things is her seeing open doors closed. I heard her muttering the other morning, ‘bastards, they’ve closed the door again!’ It was open but she saw it as closed… my Ma rarely if ever swears. She also loses her room. She will walk out of it go to the toilet (she sometimes loses that too) and won’t be able to find her way back. When I coax her back she usually asks me to go and get her things from the room she was in before, I then point them out to her and she just accepts it. The human brain is an amazing and scary thing.
If the ‘visions’ don’t upset her I let them slide but if she has ‘somebody’ in her bed I lie across it or thump the blankets. I will hear her approaching her room and then her footsteps slow and then she’ll do a 360 degree turn and out she’ll come. I usually try and get there before her so I can make sure the bed is smoothed out. I always say to her, ‘is there somebody there?’ I always reinforce the fact that she has never been right yet about there being somebody there, and she’ll always agree. This usually works.
I left her for a couple of hours the other night and we heard her talking when we got home and entered the house to find her very distressed. There was a man with a cut throat bleeding to death in the corner and a black man coming out of a box. She said she knew the black man wasn’t there (Ma isn’t racist it’s just her way of describing the man). Weird that she believed the man was bleeding in the corner but accepted that the man wasn’t coming out of the box.
Sometimes it’s entertaining, sometimes it’s really sad, it’s just her reality.