By Luciana Mitzkun Weston,
Villa Alamar Community Services Director
Hallucinations occur frequently in patients with advanced dementia, but they are not necessarily scary. They often take the place of a comforting friend, helping to ease anxiety and making sense of times spent immersed in confusion.
Such is the case with Jake, who seems to be living in his own world, which is populated with friends of his own choosing, and who are always there to support him. It is difficult to witness exactly what takes place in Jake’s world, but we know it is a soothing and reassuring world for him.
It was on a spring Sunday that we got a rare glimpse into that exclusive world. Jake was lounging in the patio, absorbing the gentle warmth gifted by the afternoon sun, that he enjoys so much. As usual, he was engaging in on-and-off conversation with Jake’s World people. Our own world kept passing him by, seemingly unnoticed.
That was until JoAnn, who was on her way to visit another resident, took notice of Jake and stopped to greet him.
“Hello, Jake”, she said with a large smile. “It’s really nice to see you!”
Jake appeared startled and disoriented. He stared right at her.
“There is a beautiful woman in front of me”, he said to his Jake’s World friend. “And she is talking to me! What should I do?”
After a moment, Jake says: “I don’t know who she is, but she knows my name! She is wearing a red dress. What should I say?”
By now JoAnn was flattered and thoroughly amused.
“Hello?”– he ventured.
JoAnn sat by Jake’s side and started talking about the beautiful weather. Jake received her attention well, but throughout the encounter, JoAnn could tell that there were more than just the two of them in that conversation. And she was OK with it.