Parkinson’s and Hallucinations: What Family Caregivers Need to Know

By Pete Lane, 8:00 am on

Looking after aging loved one with Parkinson’s disease presents many challenges. Some seniors with the condition – which primarily affects movement and balance – may also experience hallucinations. In fact, most patients experience visual hallucinations, with a smaller percentage experiencing auditory hallucinations and delusions, as reported by The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.

If you provide care for an aging parent or loved one with Parkinson’s, the following information about hallucinations can help to ensure the highest quality of care, while also making sure your loved one feels comfortable and safe at all times.

Types of Hallucinations Experienced by Parkinson’s Patients

Caregivers are often alerted to hallucinations when their loved one makes unfounded claims, often of a paranoid nature. Common hallucinations may include thinking that someone is out to harm them or making outrageous statements that are clearly untrue. During the onset of psychosis, some patients may realize that their hallucinations aren’t real. At later stages, patients may not be able to distinguish the difference between reality and delusion.

A Possible Indication of Other Conditions

If a caregiver notices their loved one is experiencing hallucinations shortly after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it may be a sign that they have some form of dementia that was misdiagnosed. If it’s suspected that a loved one may have another condition, a caregiver should alert their doctor so that additional testing can be performed to determine if this is the case.

Identifying Causes of Parkinson’s Hallucinations

Research suggests that hallucinations related to Parkinson’s may not be entirely random. Factors such as a lack of sleep or stress may play a part in some psychotic episodes. Certain medications used to increase levels of dopamine and conditions such as urinary tract infections may also trigger hallucinations.

Taking Action to Reduce or Eliminate Hallucinations

Since early intervention is important when it comes to conditions like Parkinson’s disease, caregivers are urged to take note of any changes in behavior, including any hallucinations they may observe firsthand. If episodes are minor, there may be no immediate need to do anything. Serious psychotic episodes are typically treated with medications once other causes are ruled out.

If your loved one’s Parkinson’s has progressed and now includes hallucinations, it may be difficult for you to manage their care needs without assistance. Know that you are not alone. Support services such as in-home care can help ensure that your loved one’s needs are being met, and professional and trained home caregivers can help to manage symptoms of Parkinson’s such as hallucinations.

For more information about in-home care for seniors with Parkinson’s, reach out to Home Care Assistance today. We offer flexible hourly and live-in home care in Centennial in the South Metro Denver area, and are available to answer questions 24/7. Call us at 303-957-3100 and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.