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Macy RN
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Experience:  RN of 19 years.Experienced in ER, Critical Care, Surgery, Nutrition, Peds,OB/Gyn and Hospice.
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Why would my 88 year old mother insist that she can see a cat

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Why would my 88 year old mother insist that she can see a cat in various parts of the room. She is quite lucid and with it but is partially sighted. The cat doestntmove or make anoise. Any ideas please
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Tuvia Breuer replied 8 years ago.



My name isXXXXX and I am a physician who practies in New York. Before I answer your question, I would like to attain some more information.


How long has your mother been seeing the cat?

Is there a particular time of the day that your mother sees th cat? Is it more common at night?

Does you mother have nay medical problems?

Has your mother been sick recently?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Over the past two weeks.

She first said she could see a square as you woul see on a chess board and over the past week the cat has also appeared.

As mentioned she is partially sighted and is rather frail. She has athritis and blood pressure.

She also continues to smoke at least 20 cigarettes a day and probably more

The cat and the square are there all of the time - day and night.

Expert:  Tuvia Breuer replied 8 years ago.

Does it bother her or does she become upset or anxious when she sees the square or cat?

Does she realize that they are not really there or does she beleive 100% that they are there?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

She knows they are not real and is concerned as to what could be causing the problem she has.

She is an ex. nurse and whilst she is certainly not active due to her athritis her mind is very sharp. converses well and is well up with the news and other such matters.

She lives alone and copes reasonably well within her own home but relies on other people to take her out on visits to the shops etc.

Expert:  Tuvia Breuer replied 8 years ago.

I will have to opt out and defer to my colleagues. Intially, I thought she may be delirious or has dementia but your description of her symptoms clearly does not fit that picture.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.


Expert:  Macy RN replied 8 years ago.



I am happy to help you today.


While visual hallucinations can be a symptom of mental illness, there are also a number of nonpsychiatric causes of "seeing things."


A common type of visual hallucination occurs after a stroke or other type of brain injury.


If the temporal lobe (the part of the brain that controls memory) is injured, people may experience visual hallucinations along with the sensation of a strange odor.


If there is an injury to the occipital lobe (the part of the brain that controls vision), there may be visual hallucinations without any odor sensations.


The exact cause of these types of hallucinations is unknown.


Vision loss from an eye injury or an eye disease, such as macular degeneration, also may sometimes lead to hallucinations -- a situation called Charles Bonnet syndrome.


In this syndrome, patients see visual hallucinations in areas of their visual field in which they are missing vision.


The hallucinations may be of faces or objects, as well as of abstract images such as light patterns.


Because these hallucinations occur in areas of missing vision, one way to make the hallucinations vanish is for patients to "redirect" their gaze to parts of the visual field where they can see.


Your mother should certainly have a neurologic workup.


Although visual hallucinations can occur in the absence of neurologic problems, there is no way to know whether she may have suffered small strokes without an imaging study (MRI).


You may also want to consult directly with your mother's eye doctor and neurologist to assist in her care.


Best Wishes to you and your mother,



Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 805
Experience: RN of 19 years.Experienced in ER, Critical Care, Surgery, Nutrition, Peds,OB/Gyn and Hospice.
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