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Voices In His Head

Question:

My 96 year old, very healthy male friend, has just recently started hearing voices in his head. He is hard of hearing in one ear for many years, and had fluid in the other ear, which is dissipating now, and his hearing is coming back. He still has his own teeth, drives regularly and is a wonderfully happy, easy going person. But the problem exists, with him now hearing undistinguishable voices in his head. He doesn’t like it. He has had no traumatic events recently. Is there a medical concept to his problem? Thanks so much for any advice. Me

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Answer:

When a person who is 96 years old begins to hear voices in his head we must consider the possibility that something may be happening inside of his brain. Two main possibilities come to mind and those are: 1) He may be experiencing what is called a Multi Infarct Dementia or, 2) He may be experiencing Alzheimer’s disease.

1. Multi infarct dementia refers to tiny strokes happening inside of the brain. While no single episode causes any real brain damage, it is the recurrence of many of these "mini strokes" that start to add up in terms of the problems they cause. Ultimately, the result of multi infarct dementia is that the person develops the same symptoms as someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Alzheimer’s disease can occur at any age but mostly seems to affect the elderly. Usually, a person of his age is not likely to develop Alzheimer’s although it can and does happen.

It is really important that your friend see his Medical Doctor in order to properly diagnose what is causing these "voices in his head." It is possible that there are other explanations for what he is experiencing. The main point is that these voices are a symptom of something and, as such, should not be ignored. It may be a problem a lot less serious than I have mentioned and that can be easily treated. On the other hand, it may be something that is much more serious.

At the very least, if your friend has something that cannot be cured but only temporarily helped he needs to know in order that he make plans for how he wants his affairs to be cared for. In addition, if he does lose the capacity to think and reason logically, he will want to make it known to the medical community how far he does and does not want treatment to go in addition to whether or not he wants extraordinary life saving procedures done to keep him alive.

All of this may be unpleasant but is necessary to consider. Who knows, he may have another 40 years to live or only a few months. That is why he should see his MD.

Good Luck

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