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Some people with dementia have hallucinations: that is, they see or hear things that are not actually there. These can be very frightening and can cause great anxiety. People with dementia with Lewy bodies seem to be particularly susceptible to hallucinations.

If you are with someone with dementia when hallucinations occur and you feel the person is frightened or anxious:

  • Acknowledge the feelings the person is experiencing
  • Avoid arguing, or contradicting the person
  • Offer reassurance - respond in a calm and supportive manner
  • Try to distract the person, by talking or by turning his or her attention to another activity

Be aware that you may need to modify the surroundings of the person with dementia:

  • Check the area is well lit. Poor lighting can cast shadows or reflections that can be misinterpreted
  • Check for noises that might be mistaken for direct speech, such as air-conditioning or the TV
  • The person with dementia may see reflections in mirrors, or photographs, as real poeple. You may have to cover or remove mirrors.

Finally, make sure the person is hearing or seeing as well as possible. Check that hearing and/or sight tests have been done recently and that the person is wearing the prescribed hearing aid and/or glasses.