What Causes Hallucinations & Delusions in the Elderly?

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What Causes Hallucinations & Delusions in the Elderly?

Hallucinations and delusions are common issues among the elderly. While researchers have found memory-related conditions can trigger hallucinations and delusions, there are a handful of other causes that can sometimes go unnoticed. To ensure the health and safety of your aging loved one, learn about some of the most common reasons for delusions and hallucinations among aging adults. 

Hypoxia (Low Oxygen Level)

When there’s a lack of oxygen flowing to the brain, hallucinations and delusions can result. Seniors at high risk for low brain oxygen levels include those with chronic respiratory conditions. If your loved one has a respiratory condition and is exhibiting unusual behavior that may indicate hallucinations or delusions, take a reading with a pulse oximeter, which is a device that measures how much oxygen is in the bloodstream. If your loved one shows a pulse ox level below 90 percent, he or she isn’t getting enough oxygen, and adjustments may need to be made to his or her medication or therapy regimen. 

Living with serious health conditions can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional in-home care. Frederick seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.


Hallucinations and delusions can be related to medications your loved one is taking. While there’s a long list of medications that can be at fault, the most common include acyclovir, anticonvulsants, tricyclic antidepressants, and levodopa, which is a common medication used in Parkinson’s treatment plans. If your loved one is taking one of these medications and is having delusions and hallucinations, consult with his or her doctor immediately. 

Caring for senior loved ones can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Assisting Hands Home Care for the help they need. We provide high-quality at-home and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Dehydration & Electrolyte Imbalances

When the body doesn’t have enough water, the brain can malfunction, causing lethargy and hallucinations. Seniors with moderate dehydration may feel dizzy or nauseous, especially when standing. The brain cannot function properly without water, making dehydrated seniors feel confused or groggy, and in severe cases, aging adults may experience hallucinations. Dizziness and confusion can make it challenging for seniors to walk and maintain their balance. 

Dehydration in an elderly person, especially after a bout of vomiting or diarrhea, can cause imbalances in important electrolytes, including potassium and sodium, which can result in hallucinations and delusions. Signs and symptoms that may accompany an electrolyte imbalance include decreased or dark urine, poor skin elasticity, constipation, and lack of perspiration. In most cases, once fluids and electrolytes are restored, these problems resolve. If the symptoms are severe, seek medical treatment instead of just giving your loved one a glass of water. 

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

It’s common for the elderly, especially women, to fail to experience the burning sensation that’s characteristic of a urinary infection. If there’s a level of discomfort, it’s often not enough for seniors to detect anything is wrong. When UTIs go untreated, toxins can build up in the blood, causing hallucinations and delusions. Fortunately, once the infection is treated with antibiotics, the senior should no longer experience any problems. 

There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to manage if their families opt for professional home care service. Frederick families can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep their loved ones safe and comfortable while aging in place. Rely on the professionals at Assisting Hands Home Care to provide high-quality compassionate care for your loved one. Give us a call today at (301) 786-5045 to learn about our flexible in-home care plans.