Eleanor was sitting at her friend Margaret’s house when she noticed a dog sniffing around the couch. She asked Margaret when she got the dog. Margaret said she didn’t have a dog. Eleanor realized she must be experiencing what her doctor warned her about when he increased her Parkinson’s disease (PD) medication dosage: hallucinations. She called her doctor that afternoon.
While not every person with PD will develop psychosis or its symptoms, it can still be a frightening thought. But what does it really mean? Like Margaret, sometimes it can be caused by a change in medication or other risk factors.
Find out why people with PD might experience symptoms and how to treat and cope with it in our new book, Psychosis: A Mind Guide to Parkinson’s Disease. Learn more about psychosis and read stories that can remind you that you are not alone on this Parkinson’s journey. Psychosis also includes these tips for people with Parkinson’s and tips for caregivers:
- Know the risk factors. Not everyone with Parkinson’s will develop hallucinations or delusions. However, dementia, vision and hearing problems, along with some medications, can increase your risk.
- Keep social engagements. Isolation is a risk factor for developing symptoms of psychosis and can put extra strain on the person you spend the most time with.
- Reduce risk for visual illusions and hallucinations by increasing lighting, particularly in dark areas. Hallucinations are more likely to occur in low light and low visibility situations.
- Prepare for doctor appointments. Knowing when the symptoms started, as well as any changes in medications or overall health, can help your care team understand what is happening and develop a plan of action.
- Educate others who frequently spend time with your loved one about his or her hallucinations and allow them to help.
- Talk to your loved one about his or her experience. Try to understand and acknowledge what he or she is going through.
- Don’t panic. If your loved one is suddenly disoriented, contact your doctor or go to a local emergency room. The problem can usually be resolved once the medical team identifies the trigger. Take your Aware in Care hospital kit.
- Know what to do if your loved one experiences delusions or confusion:
- Tell their doctor.
- Stay calm.
- Keep dangerous objects in secure locations.
- Arrange furniture in a way that someone who is confused will not trip.
- Do not argue with the person.
Along with Psychosis, the Parkinson’s Foundation recently published Cognition and Mood to help people with PD and caregivers through these changes. Call our free Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636) to order any of our educational materials or to speak to a Parkinson’s specialist.