Prevalence and Type of Hallucinations in Lewy Body Dementia
People with Lewy body dementia are more likely to experience hallucinations than those with Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia, and in general, they experience them earlier in the disease process than people do with other types of dementia. For some people, these hallucinations may even be one of the first symptoms of Lewy body dementia they experience.
Up to 80% of people with Lewy body dementia experience visual hallucinations. These hallucinations are often recurrent and very detailed. Hallucinations of adults, children or animals are common.
Responding to Lewy Body Dementia Hallucinations
It can be difficult to know how best respond to hallucinations in Lewy body dementia. Because these hallucinations often occur earlier in the disease process, some people respond well to gentle reality orientation and reassurances that the hallucination isn’t real.
Although it’s not recommended to try to persuade someone with Alzheimer’s disease that what they’re seeing or hearing isn’t there, in Lewy body dementia, you may want to try that method first since there are usually fewer cognitive deficits in the person with Lewy body dementia when they’re experiencing hallucinations.
If your loved one is very upset and distraught about his hallucination, you will want to use caution and provide some extra space between you and him. In his distress, it’s possible he could mistake you for his hallucination or experience a catastrophic reaction and become combative. Reassure him and ask him if you can come sit by him before entering his space.
Treatment of Hallucinations in Lewy Body Dementia
When someone with Lewy body dementia experiences hallucinations, treatment might follow a similar protocol to treatment of hallucinations in other kinds of dementia with a very important exception: the use of antipsychotic medications.
About half of people with Lewy body dementia are extremely sensitive to typical antipsychotic medications including Haldol and can experience severe and life-threatening reactions to them. Atypical antipsychotics may be less likely to provoke a serious reaction but caution is very important when considering the use of antipsychotic medications in Lewy body dementia.
A Word from Verywell
Finally, remember that Lewy body dementia, like other dementias, is a disease that affects the whole family. No matter how much you love the person, caring for someone with Lewy body dementia can be very draining on both your physical and emotional energy.