Caregivers often report their loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia who would talk about seeing or hearing things that are not there. In the West, patients would be placed on medication to calm down especially if they react aggressively, fearfully or become very restless due to these visions.
My mom herself also experience hallucinations which I would like to share more. In this article, what I would cover would be unconventional and probably something you have not heard before if you are in the West.
Video sharing my experience:
I have uploaded a video to share on my experience further:
Are their hallucinations real?
Medically, it is said that due to changes in their brain or that they are reliving old memories,they may talk about seeing people who have passed away a long time ago such as their mother, grandmother or a deceased sibling/ son/ daughter.
However, in the case of my mother’s hallucinations, I do feel that she is in fact seeing what she is seeing in real time. Ie, they are not hallucinations.
I have discussed with a friend of mine who have been years into spiritual work. And we both agree that often Alzheimer’s/ dementia persons would develop the third eye, ie they are now able to see spirits and realms that we cannot see. Some people are born with this ability, some develop it through cultivation, but in this case, it is because of their weakened state due to illness that give them that sensitivity.
Chinese belief that a person would be able to see a ghost or spirit when their life cycle is downward, ie they are on bad luck. This is for the case when the person normally cannot see. The same applies to someone, whose protective shields, aura and life force is weakened by physical illness and imbalances in the body. They can now see things that we are unable to see.
Why do I feel my mother’s hallucinations are not merely imagination or nostalgic flashes
The main thing is because her symptoms are reduced through spiritual intervention. Let me give you are few examples.
1. Agitation during hospitalization
You may notice that many elderly persons totally dislike hospitals. Usually we may think is because they prefer their home which is more familiar with no intruding needles and treatments.
My mom used to be quite docile during hospital stays before she had Alzheimer’s because she was a former nurse herself hence she did her best not to make things difficult for nurses and doctors.
However, after she devleoped Alzheimer’s, it changed. The first stay she had about 5 years ago (that time she had mild Alzheimer’s symptoms but her stay was due to her liver cirrhosis that caused jaundice and ascites, ie swelling). She was like feeling angry and upset, and waking me up every 30 minutes or so demanding what the heck she was doing there and insisted to go home.
The same thing repeated again in her subsequent hospital stays during the years.
However, in one stay, we were in a private room. Her eyes was darting at the ceiling and she was very restless and looked agitated. It was last year and that time she was in criticial condition due to lung infection. My teacher came over to visit and saw her expression.
She then quietly told me that tomorrow, she would send someone over with some offering of flowers. She told me to go down to the Buddha statue (every hospital in Thailand have a Buddha shrine as far as I know) and offer the flower. Then pray to the Buddha and the hospital’s guardian beings by giving my mom’s full name and room number ….and request for their kind protection during my mother’s stay.
I did what I was told. Right after that, her agitation just STOPPED.
I have also read in a Singapore based forum that the person’s aunt who stayed with a sick relative in a hospital also experienced something similar. As she was a Christian, she prayed continously to God for protection and the symptoms subsided.
2. Feeling goosebumps and hairs at the back of my neck raising
Initially these indicents happen at home. I would be tending to my mom and her eyes would be looking at something at the back of me with curiousity. She would then point her hand towards that direction and ask me ‘who’s that?’ (she can still communicate in simple language). I would ask ‘who’s what?’ or “who do you see?’ and instantly feel goosebumps running down my spine and the back of my neck becoming very cold.
Thankfully these incidents tend to happen more in the late afternoon around 3pm to 5pm….. and not at night.
After that, when I started doing more Buddhist chanting and then dedicating merits to them, the goosebumps stopped. There is no hostility and unpleasant feeling.
Why do people who are very sick suffer from hallucination
In ancient customs, it is believed if a sick person started seeing deceased relatives especially their parents who had passed away long time ago, that means their time is near. Hence, more than 5 years ago when my mother started calling her grandma (which passed away decades ago when my mom was 17 years old), my colleague told me it was a bad sign because usually it is a sign that the deceased is coming to take them away. At that time, my mother had liver cirrhosis from chronic hepatitis B that turned acute, which basically caused jaundice all over her body and bloating around her abdomen and ankles areas.
I was told by someone from hospice that she probably had 3 months left judging from her outer appearance. Elders asked me to clarify with my mom on her preferred last rites, ie did she prefer creamation or burial, picking up at attire that she like. It is all done with good intention so that when the time really come there is no confusion. That time, as my mother’s Alzheimer symptoms were only mild, she was still able to make her own decisions and we had that talk, and she told me ‘anything convenient for us would do and that she did not have any preferance because the most important thing is when she is alive’.
So, I resigned from my job to do my best to care for her for the remaining time. My boss then had expected to see me back in 3 months’ time.
It was her declining health that pushed me to pick up my spiritual practice again. I made it a point to do Buddhist chanting twice a day and transferance of merits, seeking for protection and asking forgiveness from beings whom my mother had wronged. After that, she did not say anymore she was seeing things and the years pass by.
However, fast forward about 4 years later (last year), as her health decline, the hallucinations came back again. It is hard to deny it was her imagination when I actually feel goosebumps, static and like touch sensation where there was no one there. It does not happen everytime she talked about her ‘imaginary people’.
At first, the energies felt like of chaotic and some a little hostile. I believe these were her karmic creditors to collect debt and ancestors to ask for help. Karmic creditors are beings that we have wronged in the past, when they pass on as spirits they sometimes come back to seek revenge, ie making the person’s illness worse. If you wish to learn more about this, you can watch my YouTube video below:
Hallucinations is a very common issue in Alzheimer’s and dementia. Through private support groups, frankly I am surprised that the manifestations are much more scary in the West, compared to Asia. There was a case where a lady reported that her father, who have dementia tried to strangle her mother. Fortunately she was there to stop it. Or their sundowning behaviours are so aggressive that they had to be sedated and restrained. Sedation also sometimes does not work and increasingly high dosage caused a quick decline in the patient.
In Asia, if we tell these issues to elders or spiritual teachers, each faith would have their own way of handling this situation which is usually considered have a root in spiritual cause. While medical advice and treatment is sought, most family members would also seek spiritual intervention and usually it can reduce the symptoms tremedously.
In Thailand for instance, families would offer alms and requisities to monks. In Thailand it is common to see monks passing over houses before dawn or early in the morning for their morning almsrounds. Families would wait and offer food. The monks would chant the transferance of merits and the families would dedicate it to the karmic creditors of their parents, plus seeking for forgiveness.
I also have a Catholic friend whose house is haunted and she kinds of feel or see things. Her mom, who is a pious Catholic often prayed in her room (the mom’s room) with rosary beads. My friend had gotten help from a few spiritual masters who commented that yes, there is ‘something’ in the house. But each one of them mentioned the particular room (which her mom had stayed and often did her prayers in) was ‘clean’.
Hence if you are a caregiver caring for a loved one who experienced hallucinations, yes do continue with treatments as usual. But also, start doing your own prayers and practice to request for protection from higher power, and forgiveness from those whom the person had wronged. My mom herself is on a relaxant medication to help to calm down her mind (she cannot take a sedative that knocks her out due to her lung aspiration condition).
Please do not feel resentful to have to do this. A lot of things in life happen for a reason. Initially you may not like it but with time, you would feel something in your heart changes and the blessings that you invite into your own life through your own spiritual practice.