What Causes Hallucinations?

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When an older adult talks about seeing something that isn’t there, it can be disconcerting for family caregivers. This is especially true if the senior is frightened by what they see. However, hallucinations are not confined to just seeing things that aren’t present. Knowing the kinds of hallucinations that can happen and some of the possible causes can make them a little less difficult to deal with.


Home Health Care in Boca Raton FL: Hallucination Causes

Home Health Care in Boca Raton FL: Hallucination Causes


Kinds of Hallucinations

Hallucinations can affect any of the senses. Kinds of hallucinations include:

Visual: A visual hallucination involves seeing objects, animals, or people that aren’t there. For example, the older adult might see a relative who has passed or an animal scurrying about the room.

Auditory: These happen when the person hears sounds that don’t have a source. They may perceive them inside their minds or think they are coming from the room around them.

Olfactory: Olfactory hallucinations occur when the senior smells something that others do not.

Gustatory: A gustatory hallucination is when the person tastes something. For example, they might think that something they eat or drink tastes odd.

Tactile: This kind of hallucination is when the person feels like something is touching them. They might have a sensation of being tickled or something crawling on them.


Possible Causes

There are several conditions that can cause older adults to hallucinate. Some of them are:

  • Parkinson’s disease.
  • Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
  • Migraines.
  • Brain tumor.
  • Epilepsy.


Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease are two of the more common causes of hallucinations in older adults. Although most people associate Parkinson’s with its physical symptoms, about half of all people with the disease experience visual hallucinations. Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia often cause hallucinations when the person is in advanced stages.


Responding to Hallucinations

The key to helping your aging relative through a hallucination is to remain calm. In some cases, you may not even need to respond. If what the person is experiencing isn’t bothering them, or is even pleasant, it may be best to ignore it. However, when the hallucination is frightening or bothersome, try some of these tips:

Reassure: Be supportive and respond in an encouraging manner. For example, you might say, “It’s okay. I’m here to help you and I’ll keep you safe.” Gently touching the person offers extra reassurance and can redirect their attention.

Distract: Try turning the senior’s attention to an activity they enjoy. Perhaps offer a snack or turn on some music.

Modify: Sometimes things in the environment trigger hallucinations. Adjust lighting to reduce shadows, cover mirrors, and turn off sounds that they may be misinterpreting, like the television or radio.

Home care can help seniors when they experience hallucinations. Because home care agencies try to match their staff with the individual’s needs, your older relative’s home care provider is likely to be familiar with their condition and will know the proper way to respond to a hallucination. A home care provider can remind them that they are safe. Home care can also use distractions like snacks, games, or a walk.

If you or a family member are in need of Home Health Care in Boca Raton, FL, call the caring professionals at Star Multi Care today at (954) 870-4770.
Providing service in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Weston, Southwest Ranches, Pembroke Pines, Cooper City, Lighthouse Point, and Wilton Manors.



About the author: Stephen Sternbach
Stephen Sternbach has been the Chairman of the Board of Directors, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Star Multi Care Services since 1987. After the sale of the New York and New Jersey operations of Star Multi Care Services, Sternbach brought the company private where he remains President and CEO of this newly developed $22M home healthcare company. With Sternbach at the helm, Star Multi Care Services employs more than 550 employees, in six offices throughout Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York. From 1978 to 1986, Sternbach was associated with Automated Data Processing, Inc. (“ADP”)–a provider of information services, where he held several marketing positions before becoming the Director of Sales. 1999-2008 Sternbach was an active participant on the Board of Directors for Proginet–a computer software company based in Garden City, New York. He also served on the Board of Trustees of the Long Island Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society from 1996-2002. In 1996, Stephen Sternbach was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst & Young, Paine Webber and NASDAQ. Sternbach was also named in Crain’s New York Business Article, “40 Under 40” Successful Business Executives/Future Business Leaders in 1995. While maintaining a diversity of business and personal interests, Sternbach concentrated most of his efforts over the past 28 years towards continuously improving the quality of services delivered by the Star Multi Care Services’ family of companies. Stephen Sternbach holds a Master of Public Administration from Syracuse University – Maxwell School of Public Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Relations and Personnel Administration from Ithaca College.