The Whitworths of Arizona, bringing science to you in everyday language.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Hallucinations, Pt 2: Management

This is the second in a series of three blogs about hallucinations based on Tanis Ferman's presentation at the 2019 ILBD Conference.

First, let me repeat that hallucinations only need management if they are distressing to your loved one. If they are distressing to you, this means that you need to find a way to accept your loved one's behaviors. Otherwise, he/she will pick up on your negative emotions and mirror them, with a likely increase in hallucinations or worse, in their intensity.

However, if a hallucination is stressful, there are some ways to help your loved one de-stress. This week, we are focusing on what Tanis calls "solution-focused management," which involves identifying patterns and triggers.

Once you know about the trigger, it is often easy to solve the problem. Even more important, it is often possible to prevent the behavior by removing or avoiding the trigger. For example, Iris, tells about her husband Eric, a Vietnam veteran, who becomes violent when he "sees" war battles and delusionally believes that he's involved.

How is this is a problem?
  • It's a problem for Iris because she's afraid she'll be hit.
  • It's a problem for Eric because he thinks he's being attacked by the enemy.
When does it happen?
  • It is most often the result of a dream that wakes Eric up acting out what he had been dreaming.
Where does it happen?
  • In bed.
What happens before and after?
  • They often happen after a physically exciting scene on TV. It doesn't have to be about war. The last time, it was a football game.
  • After Eric wakes up fighting, Iris leaves the bed.
Who is around?
  • Usually only Iris. But it was triggered once, when an old buddy showed up and they got to reminiscing.
These answers tells Iris that she needs to monitor Eric's TV watching and ask his buddies to be careful what they talk about because both of these appear to be triggers. She also probably needs to find a different bed to sleep in. Emotion-based solutions may not be helpful with this type of issue because, with almost immediate violence involved, Iris will be less able to get past the negative emotions to where Eric can hear her. Her best solution is to limit the possible triggers and make sure she is safe.

Likely Triggers
  • Physical: Medications, dehydration, infection, not enough  exercise, pain, constipation, sleepiness, alcohol, mood.
  • Environment: Clutter, lighting, cues (TV), move misperceived objects
  • Task demands: Task too hard, causing stress, or too easy, causing boredom.
  • Fluctuations: Not actually triggers, but if you are aware of your loved one's pattern of fluctuations, you can usually choose activity times for when he/she is more aware which will decrease stress and increase awareness.
Next week's blog will be about dealing with hallucinations via what Tanis calls emotion and communication focused management.

For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia
Responsive Dementia Care: Fewer Behaviors Fewer Drugs
Lewy Body Dementia: A Manual for Staff

Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

No comments:

Post a Comment