There are many types of dementia, from Alzheimer’s disease, vascular and frontotemporal dementia to Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies and more. It can be easy to think that they all include the same or similar signs and symptoms, however, each form is different and affects seniors differently. This can make caring for those with dementia difficult, so it’s important to stay informed about your loved one’s particular diagnosis to know what to expect and how to help them.

According to Cydney Hansen, Marketing Director, at CountryHouse, a memory care community in Granite Bay, CA, one form called dementia with Lewy bodies can pose a range of symptoms and issues for seniors with dementia. “Dementia with Lewy bodies is like many forms of dementia in that it causes memory loss and issues with problem-solving, critical thinking and judgment,” says Cydney. “Unlike many other forms of dementia, where symptoms aren’t usually present right away, Lewy body dementia tends to present itself with early symptoms such as sleep disturbances, imbalance and – most disturbingly – hallucinations. These hallucinations are often very well-formed and appear lifelike to the senior with Lewy body dementia. This can be a scary symptom not only for them, but for you as a caregiver. Fortunately, with education, preparation and knowledge of how to address this issue, you can bring your loved one comfort and help to diminish this symptom.”

What is dementia with Lewy bodies and what are common symptoms?

According to the Alzheimer’s Association®, Lewy body dementia is the third most common form of dementia and accounts for 10 to 25 percent of cases. Those with Lewy bodies often deal with symptoms from confusion and trouble interpreting visual information to delusions, visual hallucinations and acting out dreams as a result of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep disorder.

What are hallucinations, why do they occur and how can caregivers address it?

If you notice that your loved one with Lewy body dementia is beginning to see people or animals who aren’t there or shapes and shadows of things, you may become alarmed. It’s also possible that they begin to hear, feel or smell things that aren’t there as well.Some of these hallucinations can be harmless, like watching children play, and others can be threatening, according to the Alzheimer’s Association®. These can sometimes cause anxiety, panic attacks and behavioral issues, so it’s important to try to address hallucinations as they occur. Consider some of the following ways to manage and prevent hallucinations.

  • Handle with care. When caring for a loved one with Lewy body dementia, it’s important that you listen to what they are saying and refrain from telling them that their hallucinations aren’t real. This doesn’t mean to ignore them. Caregivers should provide reassurance and comfort them.
  • Put yourself in their shoes. According to the Alzheimer’s Association®, it can help to step into their hallucination to guide them out. They provide the example of intrusion. If your loved one believes they saw someone in the home, it can help to hide with your loved one in a safe place and call the police in a convincing manner. This can help to neutralize the threat and calm and comfort your loved one. Afterward, give your loved one their favorite snack, as this can help calm them further.
  • Consider medication side effects. It’s possible your loved one is taking a medication that could be causing them to hallucinate as a side effect. Talk to your loved one’s doctor to see if this is normal and try to find an alternate medication for them to take.
  • Certain medications can also help. When used properly, medications that are monitored can help to keep your loved one calm and alleviate some of the hallucinations. It’s important to talk to your doctor to see what can help you manage this troubling symptom while making your loved one feel safer and more comfortable.

At your loved one’s doctor appointment, it’s crucial to bring up any concerns you may have. Keeping notes and a detailed list of hallucination history can help your doctor to find the best course of treatment. Be sure to write down the following:

  • A detailed description of the hallucination
  • When it occurred and what your loved one was doing
  • How long it lasted
  • How it made your loved one feel/how they reacted

Be sure to mention the medications your loved one is taking and if they were using alcohol or other drugs, as this can have a large impact on the occurrence of hallucinations.

For more information about Lewy body dementia, or to learn additional tips to help you address hallucinations, contact the team at CountryHouse at Granite Bay. We provide multiple support groups and have the expert experience you need to be able to help your loved one. Call us today at 916•850•2774.

Treating people like family is at the heart of what we do.

CountryHouse at Granite Bay is the very first CountryHouse location in California. With a desirable location among Folsom Lake and the Sierra foothills, and only 25 miles northeast of Sacramento, Granite Bay was the perfect area to place our upscale memory care community. While CountryHouse at Granite Bay may be brand new to California, we are certainly not new to the needs of seniors. And just like every CountryHouse around the United States, we know that personalized care can make all the difference when it comes to quality care and peace of mind.

At CountryHouse at Granite Bay, we provide personalized memory care in an environment that is beautiful and thoughtfully designed. Full of natural light, warmth and tasteful elegance, we want residents and their families to feel welcome and at home. In fact, our staff members are even hand-picked based on their natural empathy. Our staff learns each resident’s story, from their likes and dislikes to their values and their pasts, in order to customize care and make meaningful connections that provide residents with true moments of joy and the desire to make the most of each day.

With our LifeCycles wellness programming, we encourage residents to connect, engage and enjoy every day. Our LifeCycles programming is designed to focus on the four dimensions of wellness: physical, social, spiritual and intellectual. We achieve this through a range of daily activities and routines, which can include daily bus rides, cookouts, trips and other special events. At CountryHouse at Granite Bay, we strive to make sure our residents make the most of each day, and we believe that when you treat people like family, and keep that at the heart of what you do, residents, their families and their health thrive. Contact us to learn more!

Connect with us today or call us at 916•850•2774 for more information or to schedule a visit.

CountryHouse is part of the Agemark family of senior living communities.