Hallucinations in Senior Citizens: An Overview
Hallucinations are a manifestation of anomalous perception of reality. They are expressed in the form of any feelings and images that arise arbitrarily without the prior influence of any stimulus and become an objective reflection of reality for people. Hallucinations in the elderly are part of most syndromes of mental activity and are a symptom of many diseases. This symptom is also very common after ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, in diseases associated with various types of metabolism.
The actual causes of the appearance of hallucinations in older people are yet to be identified, but it can be said that their development is based on pathological changes in brain structures responsible for the perception of stimuli and the formation of an adequate response to them. There are two main types of hallucinations: true and pseudohallucinations. The first type is characterized by the fact that such hallucinations are perceived as realistic as possible, and it seems to people that they perceive them with the help of their senses. The second type of hallucinations, also called false, is devoid of this characteristic, and the resulting visions are transmitted directly to the brain. True Hallucinations, in turn, is also divided into a number of groups:
Spontaneous. They appear without any effects on the receptors of human sense organs. Functional. Develop under the influence of various stimuli on sensitive endings.
Reflex. Occur when a stimulus is exposed to a single perceptive apparatus, but they are regarded as stimulation of another sense organ. For example, when exposed to noise, the patient observes some kind of visual image.
Hallucinations in the elderly, as a rule, are visual, olfactory and vestibular, but other types can occur. Usually, they are combined with a distortion of taste, hearing impairment and surface sensitivity. The causes of hallucinations in the elderly are very different:
Tumor growths in the brain.
Various infectious diseases.
Side effects of drugs.
Prolonged isolation from the social environment.
Other pathological changes in the psyche.
The frequency of occurrence and the degree of intensity of hallucinations in the elderly depends on the course of the main disease. Hallucinations appear as a result of delirium, paranoia, taking any psychoactive drugs. Senile hallucinations, as a rule, have a stable character, especially with psychosis and schizophrenia. Also, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or dementia may also lead to hallucinations in senior citizens.
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