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Hearing music that isn't there: How much care is needed for ADLO w. auditory hallucinations?
Stellar Daughter-In-Law
Posted: Sunday, January 8, 2012 1:00 AM
Joined: 12/21/2011
Posts: 280


My grandma has been diagnosed with dementia.  It is early stage.  I hear from my parents about various things that she is forgetting or not comprehending.  The latest is that she is constantly hearing played over in her head The Battle Hymn of The Republic at different volumes and with words to it about a romance.  It is very irritating to her and she is aware that it is not real and that we also can't hear it and she knows she cannot make it go away. 

 

I just googled it and it sounds like what she is experiencing is an auditory hallucination.  Does anyone else have experiences with this in their ADLO?  If so, was there anything that made it go away? Did they eventually have other kinds of delusions or visual hallucinations?  Was it a sign that their dementia was progressing? 

 

My family is moving at a snails pace with finding appropriate care for my grandma.  She is 91 and lives alone in a condo.  She is doing her own medication management, laundry, and bathing.  My parents or my aunt talk to her daily and visit her many times a week. They drive her places, prepare ready to heat meals, review her finances, though she might actually still be paying her own bills.   I feel that she needs more care and supervision.  Is having auditory hallucinations something that I can point to and say to my parents "See, now it is bad enough that you need to take a next step in her care."  They feel for her that she cannot turn the music off, but to them it seem almost interesting or just like - oh grandma is listening to the radio.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Iris L.
Posted: Sunday, January 8, 2012 1:24 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 16200


  

 

 

 

Even without the hallucinations, how is Grandma's functioning?   How is she heating her meals?  How is she cleaning up?  Is there old expired food in the refrigerator?  Someone needs to do a thorough evaluation in-home.  Perhaps someone from your local Agency on Aging can do an assessment.   

 

 

 

 Perhaps if you reviewed the stages of Alzheimer's you could better advise your Mom and aunt. 

http://www.alzinfo.org/clinical-stages-of-alzheimers 

Have you moved yet?

Iris L. 


skericheri
Posted: Sunday, January 8, 2012 1:26 AM
Joined: 12/10/2011
Posts: 287


Stellar---I hate to admit it...but...Your grandmother's audio hallucination interests me.  Tonight my ears are ringing. After reading your post, I could imagine that someone with A/D would be able to morph the 'ringing' into a song.

 

Could the amended lyrics that she is hearing be ones that she heard or made up as a child?  When my son was a toddler, I made up a song that encouraged him to eat his food and sang it to the tune of Row Row Row Your Boat.

 

I think your grandmother should be taken to an ear doctor or a GP  Ear ringing can be a sign of other problems.  (Blood pressure for one)

 

 If you want to tell the relatives anything...I would keep it relatively low key and caution them to begin to watch for additional losses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



AlphaLeah
Posted: Sunday, January 8, 2012 8:59 AM

My father has auditory hallucinations, but they are transitory. And usually of people "sneaking around" outside of his windows or lout banging sounds.

I also wondered about whether what your grandmother is experiencing is an auditory hallucination or something related to tinnitus (ringing in the ears), which can often be continual rather than transitory. 

It's also difficult without someone living with her to know what and how much she is eating. B-12 deficiencies and other vitamin deficiencies are common in the elderly and some can cause neurological issues and might be related to what she's experiencing.

Can someone perhaps go stay with her for a few days and simply observe what goes on from day to day to get a better sense of her overall functioning?


rose_ro
Posted: Sunday, January 8, 2012 9:44 AM
Joined: 12/21/2011
Posts: 2431


She should surely see a neuro asap...

 

I hope they move more quickly, or you can help them to move more quickly.

 

My grandmother fell about the same age, as she lived alone - and wanted to live alone.  It's not a nice thing for them to have to deal with.  ANYthing can throw them off, distract them - esp if they're having these auditory things.

 

My grandmother was just putting her groceries away.

 

My other grandmother, much younger, fell while living alone.  Again, not a nice thing for them to deal with.

 

I would not wait much longer.  I'm not saying she'll fall - I hope she never does.  But families can want to not challenge elders, or bother them or change their lives.  But when they fall, or something else happens, it changes their lives in a real way.

 

Often, their dementia gets worse, and they lose the chance to make some choices.

 

I never thought my mom could fall and break a hip.  We are so fortunate it wasn't so much worse.

 

Good luck.  Can only share what we've gone through, and how I wish we could have helped my grandmothers sooner.  Those falls were traumatic to them.

 

And yes, everything about my grandmothers was ''interesting.''  We were too ''detached'' in a sense.  We didn't think anything bad could happen to them.

 

The fact that they were alive meant- nothing could happen to them.  They also looked pretty healthy.  I think doctors then were a little more ''old school.''


rose_ro
Posted: Sunday, January 8, 2012 9:52 AM
Joined: 12/21/2011
Posts: 2431


One more thing to share...with my mom, we were focusing too much on small things.  perhaps this was the case with my grandmothers, too.

 

The big picture is not her ear issues, eating or whatever.   Your family needs to say - what can happen to her living alone?  She may not want to move - I know my one grandmother never wanted to move.  Well, she had one moment when she thought she would.  But - Places did not exist back then as they do now. 

 

She seems like a prime candidate for assisted living, or living with someone in the family.

 

I have heard a lot of stories now of women in AL, or other people that I never ran into before.  broken hips, broken this or that.  Hip replacements. 

 

Your grandmother could also get much worse and start refusing to ever move.  If she could be talked to now, things might go much better.  Even an aide to help her during the day?  just - not being alone.

 

A woman at a chiro I went to told me how she fell going up her stairs and broke her back.  I mean - who wants that to happen?!

 

I know my thoughts are based on what we've gone through.  Sure, giving up your ''freedom'' seems hard, but often things take our freedom away, and take other things at the same time.

 

 


Meltdown
Posted: Sunday, January 8, 2012 10:02 AM
Joined: 12/19/2011
Posts: 17


I'm curious what drugs she is on. My grandmother had auditory hallucinations (also in her 90's). However, in her case they were frightening. She would stop what she was doing and tell us to be quiet - she was getting a "report". She also frequently complained about the man yelling upstairs (there isn't an upstairs. As for the music, we tried to say it must be coming from the neighbors house, then our jaws dropped open when she said - then why are they saying my name? "Name - we are coming to kill you".

 

She came to me on anti-psychotics and anti-depressants. Eventually she started having akathesia, and we traced it back to these drugs. Only because I was with her 24/7, and we had a great Dr. who agreed to let me try, we weened her off them, and went with anti-anxiety drugs as needed. She wasn't psychotic or depressed, and a lot cleared up for her after the rough transition. It turns out these drugs were messing with her brain in ways no one understands.

 

My feeling is if a drug says it should never be used on children, why would it be appropriate for a 90 + year old body - which is probably more fragile than a child's?

cathyjm
Posted: Sunday, January 8, 2012 10:46 AM
Joined: 12/2/2011
Posts: 160


Stellar Daughter-In-Law wrote:

My grandma has been diagnosed with dementia.  It is early stage.  I hear from my parents about various things that she is forgetting or not comprehending.  The latest is that she is constantly hearing played over in her head The Battle Hymn of The Republic at different volumes and with words to it about a romance.  It is very irritating to her and she is aware that it is not real and that we also can't hear it and she knows she cannot make it go away. 

 

I just googled it and it sounds like what she is experiencing is an auditory hallucination.  Does anyone else have experiences with this in their ADLO?  If so, was there anything that made it go away? Did they eventually have other kinds of delusions or visual hallucinations?  Was it a sign that their dementia was progressing? 

 

My family is moving at a snails pace with finding appropriate care for my grandma.  She is 91 and lives alone in a condo.  She is doing her own medication management, laundry, and bathing.  My parents or my aunt talk to her daily and visit her many times a week. They drive her places, prepare ready to heat meals, review her finances, though she might actually still be paying her own bills.   I feel that she needs more care and supervision.  Is having auditory hallucinations something that I can point to and say to my parents "See, now it is bad enough that you need to take a next step in her care."  They feel for her that she cannot turn the music off, but to them it seem almost interesting or just like - oh grandma is listening to the radio.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.


My partner had this kind of bothersome music repeating in her ears quite a bit at any early stage. Her audiologist told us that it was a variation of tinnitus. As I recall, my partner hadn't been wearing her hearing aids as much as usual, so it makes sense that her brain was simply "filling in" with sounds.

At that point, the audiologist reprogrammed her hearing aids to fit the computer-read evaluation of her hearing, but the leap in hearing was too jarring for her. (The brain has to adjust to the level of input. Without the hearing aids input was too low, but with the readjusted ones it was too high.) After we had him adjust them back down to a somewhat "deficient" level, they worked for her fine and the unwanted music disappeared.

I understand that this isn't your main point. I don't think you should use this as the criterion for increasing her level of care. (There's a big difference between hearing unwanted music and hearing something like "These men who have taken over my ears are telling me I should kill everyone who comes to the door.") Most of us have had transitory experiences of listening to a piece of music and noticing that it kept repeating in our minds longer than we wanted. So your grandma's experience is, like many AD experiences, just somewhat intensified "normal" experience.

There may be something else to observe that means that indeed this should be done. Meanwhile though, I'd take her to her audiologist. If she doesn't have one -- she needs one though what can be done now may be very limited.

Of course, her brain specialist should also be informed. He or she might have some different ideas. If she doesn't have a brain specialist, that's another important next step. 


Teppie
Posted: Sunday, January 8, 2012 10:58 AM
Joined: 12/16/2011
Posts: 122


i suffer from tinnitus. sometimes it sounds like music on a radio. playing low, but if i concentrate, i can almost make out the words. excedrin and advil can irritate tinnitus.
Marjk
Posted: Sunday, January 8, 2012 11:06 AM
Joined: 11/29/2011
Posts: 799


Auditory hallucinations are real.  They almost always occur when there is hearing loss present.  Many people don't mention them because they fear people will think they are crazy.  Auditory hallucinations are often in the form of music, people can hear actual symphonies.  One known treatment for this is antipsychotic medications, Risperdal is one that has been used.  Another cause for auditory hallucinations is brain damage.  We all know that Dementia is brain damage.  This is not to make people worry that they have brain damage because they hear music in their head.

 

One other interesting thing to note here is that the majority of people who have the auditory hallucinations are women with hearing loss.


Stephanie Z
Posted: Sunday, January 8, 2012 11:21 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 4219


Hi Stellar, You've gotten some good advice. The two things that stand out as most helpful are getting a neurologist to see her and checking to see if she is taking her meds as directed. Even if she is, she could still be getting an overdose since meds she has been taking for years may now be too much for her given her advanced age and changes in the way her body metabolizes, absorbs and excretes medications.

Both worth pursuing.

Stephanie