FAQs #4

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Q4. My mother hallucinates in the afternoon; otherwise, she seems fine. What should I do? I can't get in to see her doctor for 1 month.

A4. Ruth Tipton:
My first reaction is: find a new doctor! But I realize that may not be feasible or wise in your situation. First of all, why can't you get in to see her doctor? When I took over my mother's affairs — including making all her doctor appointments, taking her there and sitting in on all her examinations and consultations — I made sure I got to know the office staff and especially her doctor's nurses! Whenever I have a problem — and we have had the same type of thing you are describing — I call the doctor's office and talk directly to the nurse. I have made her my main contact there and have found that since she and I have established a good relationship, I can get any answers and emergency appointments within just a few hours. What you're looking for is some answers and assurances; elderly people have special problems and situations that are quite common, such as Ti's (I call them mini-strokes, though the nurse and doctor have a better definition), which make my mom really go off into never-never land! It scared me terribly at first — but with repeated episodes, I know what's happening and know that she will come out of it. But I always let her nurse and doctor know when it happens and I let them be the judge then as to if we need to come into the office.

If I couldn't get through to my mom's medical professionals, I truly would change doctors! But then, that's me.

Monica Keefe:
Hallucinations and sudden changes in mental status are usually considered an emergency. Since your mother seems to do this on a regular basis, at the same time of day, and is her usual self at other times, I would suspect that this is almost certainly related to medication. However, hallucinations are serious, so it is very important that you "demand" to see her doctor immediately. Then, find out exactly what she is taking. This includes all over the counters medicines as well. (Check her medicine cabinet and bedside as well. Sometimes these folks do not consider anything over the counter as a medicine.. but frequently do get into trouble because of these substances and the interactions they have with other meds, and their own side effects.) Take this information to your doctor.

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