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dillusional episodes
Fussy Dussy
Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2019 8:54 PM
Joined: 8/21/2019
Posts: 1

Any advice or hints in how to get my husband out of his non-reality episodes and back to reality.  When in an unfamiliar setting (like staying in a hotel, etc.), he has started awakening with anxiety and intenseness, and thinks he still has his business, has appointments and deadlines.  I'm not sure at all how to bring him back to real life???????
Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2019 10:12 PM
Joined: 2/2/2019
Posts: 156

There comes a time when the solution is to stop traveling and staying in hotels to avoid the anxiety, confusion and agitation that unfamiliar places can create for dementia sufferers. If travel is absolutely necessary, medication to reduce the anxiety can be prescribed by your husband’s physician or geriatric psychiatrist. It’s difficult or impossible to “bring him back to real life” because his reality is different than yours. Stepping into his reality and using “fiblets” may work better. If he talks about the business and meeting deadlines, perhaps you can tell him you will help him tomorrow after you both have a good nights sleep, or that his appointments have been taken care of, etc. As the disease progresses, we as caregivers have to learn new ways to manage and deal with many difficult situations. Being calm is so essential even if we want to yell and scream.  This forum has been a life line for me.....good advice, support and just knowing I am not alone. Stay strong!
Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2019 11:37 AM
Joined: 4/1/2014
Posts: 5059

I want to echo marabella's advice. For many years in the earliest stages of my mother's dementia, we traveled far and wide but once she started to believe we could just "go home tonight" after flying somewhere for hours-I knew I had to end our trips. Once our outings (not just trips to new locales, but even to the store or restaurants) became a source of anxiety and confusion-we stopped going. For the sake of my mother's comfort-I had adjusted my desire to travel. We traveled and did all kinds of stuff together, but I had to adapt and change my expectations as my mother declined.

As marabella said, a person's delusions are real for them and they cannot be snapped at out them easily. Delusions come and go, but we cannot usually force our LO's out of them in any kind of timely manner.  The time for bringing your husband back to "real life" may be over, especially after a tiring day of traveling or activity.

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 12:41 PM
Joined: 10/9/2014
Posts: 1047

I wouldn't count on him getting better about recognizing strange surroundings. Is there any reason that he must travel?  With dementia, it's usually better for them to have a routine and in familiar surroundings.  My LO would even get disoriented going back to the facility after a doctor appointment. She would forget that she lived there and be very afraid to go inside.  I'd have to show her her room with her belongings and chat with the other residents and staff to re-orient her.  Venturing from home is not usually a good idea.  It can bring on anxiety, confusion, etc.
Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 12:57 PM
Joined: 6/11/2019
Posts: 516

Unfortunately, they generally don't snap back like yo-yos. Would that they did!

I will say that sometimes my mom responds to certain assurances. She has a fixation about our new house and usually refuses to believe that it is ours. "We have to leave." "I don't want my stuff here ... take it home."  "Someone will come and get all this stuff and I want THAT back." I tell her that it's our house, everything in it is ours and no one is going to do anything to any of it. If I gently and slowly say that three or four times, that usually gets her past it and calms her down. I only debate that part of reality with her because it makes her SO uncomfortable and I want her to feel safe.

Last night she told me she didn't think she was going back to work anymore. At 76, she didn't think she should have to work anymore. While she hasn't had a job in almost 19 years, I think she was referring to daycare which she is deadset against most of the time. While I probably will try to get her back there again soon, I just agreed with her. Told her she didn't have to work anymore. 

Pick your battles. Just try to get them to a point where they are comfortable and not agitated!

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 1:48 PM
Joined: 6/12/2019
Posts: 44

Fussy Dussy wrote:
Any advice or hints in how to get my husband out of his non-reality episodes and back to reality.  
 As Mom's neurologist explained, it is their reality. When the brain loses a memory, it will conveniently fill in with one of its own (one that is truly believable to the AD person). So they are either pulling a memory from their past or they have one that the brain has invented. Either way, to them it is real. If they think the dog needs to go out (but you don't have a dog), you let the dog out. The main idea is to keep them safe, happy and calm.   ♥♥♥

Greg G
Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 2:08 PM
Joined: 2/8/2017
Posts: 987

Hey Fussy Dussy,

Welcome to our ever growing club that no one wants to join.  We are glad you came knocking. 

Each reply you have received so far is right on target.  The bottom line is that the number of times he will come "back to reality" will continue to diminish.  The problem is that he is not able to change how he thinks.  His brain is damaged and there is no repair.  You, with the properly working brain, are the one that has to change.  His reality is truly reality in his mind.  And no one can change that.  

One of the things about caregiving for dementia folks is that the caregiver has to enter the dementia person's world.  That is how we attempt to keep them from so much anxiety and frustration.  By reducing as much stress from them as possible.  Either by verbal cues or pharmaceutical ones or a combination of both.  I'm sure you will get other replies.

Good luck and best wishes, Greg


Jo C.
Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 4:09 PM
Joined: 12/9/2011
Posts: 10762

Hello FussyDussy and welcome!  I am sorry for what is happening and we understand what you are experiencing.  All of us, at one point, were on the learning curve regarding dementia and we learn the lay of the land as we move along.

 Structure and routine are two very important elements for a person with dementia.   Any changes, for many of our Loved Ones (LOs), brings about anxiety, confusion and a definite change in behaviors; (sometimes even in cognition and function),most often to the negative side of the ledger.  Travel away from home can be a dreadful situation for many of our LOs that is not tolerated and cause them much distress.  The damaged brain begins to try and fill in spaces and compensate and delusions often occur.

The days of travel are probably no longer going to be a positive and will continue to cause upset, changes and anxiety for your dear husband.   This can actually increase in intensity and cause significant problem issues and some of our LOs have even had negative changes cling for quite awhile after getting back home again until things finally settled out.

As for getting a person "out" of their delusions; that is not something that brings any degree of success.  Our LOs delusions, (rigid false beliefs) are their actual reality.  They will hang onto that belief or series of beliefs and it is as real to them as the chair you are sitting on.  It is best not to argue, or to point out falseness, or to try and dissuade; that usually brings the opposite effect of what we desire.

If there is a delusional upset, it is best to validate the feelings behind the words rather than the words themselves, and then refocus onto something else.

 We learn to adapt to our LOs reality as they are no longer able to adapt to ours.  Keeping things in a routine and in good structure; having the living environment being uncluttered and peaceful and even not having horror or bad actions on TV is something our LOs are better with.  Some of our LOs do not do well in loud, noisy environements or in large gatherings of people.  Each of our LOs is different in how they react to different things.

There is a wonderful bit of writing from a dementia expert; Jennifer Ghent-Fuller, "Understanding the Dementia Experience."  She permits people to download this and print it off if wished at no cost and is well worth reading.

The Alzheimer's Assn. has a Helpline at (800) 272-3900.  If you call,, please ask to speak to a Care Consultant. There are no fees for this service. Consultants are highly educated Social Workers who specialize in dementia and family dynamics.  They are good listeners, offer much support, have good information and can often assist us in our problem solving.

At the top of the page is a link to, "Solutions," there are different issues discussed there, you may want to take a look and see what you find.

I send warm thoughts you way; let us know how you are, we will be thinking of you,