Some people with a dementing illness have hallucinations and may hear, see or smell things that are not real. They may seem real to the person and can make the person resistant to help. This may often result in agitation and calling out.

Possible Underlying Causes:

A result of brain injury or superimposed delirium; agnosia (failure to recognize things); problems may arise from difficulty distinguishing objects, particularly in poor lighting conditions; misinterpreting sounds in the environment; forgetting that someone they once knew is dead.

Possible Modifications:

  • Check environment to see if it is too stimulating (e.g. noise).
  • Increase lighting, reduce shadow in room and make sure there is no glare sources that may be disturbing the person.
  • Play a soothing, familiar, or favorite piece of music.
  • Try distracting the person by taking him/her into another room (e.g., kitchen for a snack).
  • Keep background noises down by closing doors where machines are running or turn down TV.
  • You may wish to remove the person to a quieter, less stimulating area.
  • Notice if there are too many patterned surfaces that might be disturbing to person.
  • Notice if there are glare sources coming from magazine pages, highly polished floors or furniture. Try to eliminate glare through the use of non-glare polished or wax, repositioning of lighting.
  • Provide person with tactile experience (e.g., smooth fabric or stuffed animal to hold) or hold person's hand while talking to him/her.

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