Arlene’s father, Fred, had Parkinson’s disease (PD), and that made caring for him difficult sometimes. He had trouble getting around the house on his own, and his hands shook so badly that he often needed help eating. But, when Fred began telling Arlene about seeing people in the room who were not there, Arlene worried that there might be something wrong with her father in addition to PD. A trip to Fred’s doctor reassured Arlene that Fred’s hallucinations were part of the disease, but left her uncertain of how to handle this new development.
Arlene and Fred’s story isn’t unusual. About 25 percent of people with PD experience hallucinations. But, just because hallucinations are common, doesn’t make them any easier for family members to deal with. Understanding what is happening and why is the first step to managing the symptom.
What are Hallucinations?
A hallucination is basically the person’s mind tricking them into believing something is present that is not. There are different kinds of hallucinations, including:
- Visual: The person sees something or someone that is not there.
- Auditory: These happen when a person hears something that is not there. Often they are sounds the person is used to hearing, like the doorbell or telephone ringing.
- Tactile: This hallucination involves the sense of touch. The person might think something is touching them when there is nothing there, such as a bug crawling on their skin.
- Olfactory: Sometimes a person with PD will smell something when others do not, such as an unpleasant odor that can’t be attributed to anything.
- Gustatory: Although rare, some people with PD experience hallucinations that involve the sense of taste, like having a bad flavor in their mouth that isn’t related to anything they’ve ingested.
Of the different kinds of hallucinations, visual hallucinations occur the most often. People with these kinds of hallucinations may see people who are not there, often relatives and sometimes even relatives who have passed away. Animals scurrying about the room are also a common visual hallucination.
What Causes Hallucinations in Parkinson’s?
Hallucinations in PD usually occur during the late stages, but they can occur at any stage. They can be a side effect of the medications used to treat other PD symptoms. Drugs that increase dopamine levels put people with PD at a higher risk for hallucinations. If your senior relative begins having hallucinations, the doctor may attempt to adjust medications before prescribing anything new.
If you have a family member with PD, in-home care can help. In-home care providers come to the home of the PD patient to help with everyday tasks, like dressing, grooming, and toileting. Senior care providers can also help with light housework, cooking, and laundry. Often, senior care providers are matched by their experience with certain conditions to their clients, so the person coming to the older adult’s home will have the knowledge and experience needed to help you manage even the most difficult symptoms, like hallucinations.
If You Or An Aging Loved One Are Considering Hiring Professional Parkinson’s Home Care in West Palm Beach, North Palm Beach FL, and surrounding areas, please Contact The Caring Staff at Assisting Hands Home Care at (561) 781-5885 Today.