July 24, 2017 by Dean Bellefeuille

effects of dementia

For those providing care for a senior struggling with the effects of dementia, a variety of complex behaviors must be very carefully managed, but perhaps the most challenging include hallucinations, illusions, and suspicions that other individuals are out to cause him problems or ill will. Mistaken impressions such as these take place most often in the late stages of progressive dementia as a result of changes within the brain. It’s essential to first understand the reason behind these emotions and actions, and to deal with the root cause.


Causes for hallucinations might be due to a general confusion, a medicine side effect or an infection. Consult the health care provider to rule out side effects from drugs or infections, but also monitor the environment.

For example:

  • If a person keeps hearing someone talking: Is a TV or radio on in another room that could be resulting in the concern?
  • If the individual believes he or she is always being watched: See if there are blinds that can be pulled closed over the windows.
  • If the person sees bugs moving on the walls: Is there a patterned wallpaper in the room that might be leading to the experience?

When illusions do happen, don’t dispute whether or not they’re real, but rather assess the situation, reassure the older adult in a peaceful voice and move to another room if necessary or reply to the senior’s emotions.

For example:

  • “I don’t see any bugs moving on the wall, but you appear to be concerned, so let’s move into the living room until they can be taken care of.”
  • “You believe you saw a man in that area? Let’s turn on the light over there so we can better see. Would that make you feel safe?”


A senior experiencing the effects of dementia may accuse other people of stealing items, of improper behavior or of betrayal. This may be due to a general confusion or memory issues, but can also be a way for the older adult to express fear.

How to respond:

  • Remove “no” from your vocabulary. Do not disagree, take offense or attempt to persuade the individual otherwise.
  • Reassure the senior, permitting him or her to communicate feelings.
  • Attempt to come up with a simple answer to the accusation.
  • Redirect, such as by distracting the senior with an alternate task.
  • Respond to the requirement rather than the words.
  • Keep duplicates of regularly lost items, such as a handbag or wallet. If one is lost, the duplicate can be shown.

It’s no question that providing care for a senior battling the effects of dementia can be daunting at times. It’s critical to depend on the assistance of others for guidance, resources and respite from the day-to-day tasks. Contact At Home Independent Living, expert providers of Syracuse dementia care, at 315.579.HOME (4663). We offer home caregivers who are professionally trained in the art of patient, innovative dementia care techniques to ensure that your loved one is safe, comfortable and thriving.