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Alzheimer's Disease

Identifying Stages of Alzheimers

08/18/2003

Question:

I`m concerned about my grandmother`s symptoms. It appears that she experiences what I call hallucinations. She makes up stories that she truly believes have happened and shares them with the family. For instance, last week she told my mother that my brother had confessed to her that he had raped my 12 year old daughter that evening. And she firmly believes this happened. She had done this quite a few times with other stories. We know for a fact that this did not happen. She also repeats things over and over again. We`re not sure what to do. My mother is her caretaker and it`s really affecting her emotionally.

Any clues?

Answer:

Karen Long, CRNP, from the University Memory and Aging Center has responded: "You didn`t mentioned if your grandmother has been diagnosed with any cognitive or psychological problems. So I will answer on the basis that she has not. What your grandmother is experiencing sounds more like delusions or confabulations. A delusion is a false belief and is seen in psychoses when someone cannot separate the delusion from reality. Confabulations is a behavioral reaction to memory loss in which your grandmother is filling in memory gaps with inappropriate words. I`m wondering if your grandmother has dementia. If your grandmother has not been diagnosed with dementia, I would recommend making an appointment with a neurologist. A neurologist will probably do a full workup including, a review of her current medications, a complete physical and blood tests to make sure that there isn`t anything physical going on. If the neurologist does in fact think that her behavior is related to a cognitive impairment she may recommend medication or other treatments that are available. In other words, there are treatments available for this behavior. If she has already been diagnosed with dementia, I would still refer her back to the neurologist who may order medication for this problem or refer her to a neuropsychologist to help you deal with this problem. This is not something you need to deal with. There is help out there."

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Response by:

Paula K Ogrocki, PhD Paula K Ogrocki, PhD
Assistant Professor of Neurology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University