Lauren explains her mother has been waking up in the middle of the night, hallucinating. Both Lauren and her mother are tired during the day due to lack of sleep.


Common response: Lauren’s mother awakens at night and is scared by a shadow on the wall. She runs to the living room and asks Lauren for help. Frustrated, Lauren takes her mother to her room, turns on the light, shows her there’s nobody there, and tells her to go back to bed.

Expert explanation: HALLUCINATIONS are a result of a problem in the part of the brain that helps interpret sights and sounds. Hallucinations involve seeing or hearing things that aren’t there. They can be frightening for the person with dementia. A good approach to reduce the occurrence of HALLUCINATIONS is to remove the objects that trigger them.

Recommended response:Lauren’s mother runs into the living room, scared. Lauren gets up and tells her mother she’ll “take care of it.” She goes into the bedroom and immediately notices the trigger, a coat rack and hat projecting a shadow on the wall. She removes the trigger from the room and reassures her. She kisses her mother goodnight.

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The project described was supported by Grant Number 1C1CMS330982 from the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or any of its agencies. This project was funded, in part, by the Archstone Foundation.