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My sister has for the past few years claimed to hear voices. They tell her things that will happen, if the prediction does not come true she claims the voices were playing with her. When I am with her alone she talks to them while talking to me, but if anyone else comes in she suddenly stops talking to her "friends." She once called the police to her local school because her "friends" said there was going to be a kidnapping. They were not amused when she told them where her info came from. She is 56 years old. Thank you

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There is a tone of doubt and skepticism to your E. Mail question. However, when a person tells you that they are hearing voices and you can see her talking to them when you are there, she has to be taken very seriously. Here is why:

Your sister seems to be having a psychotic experience. It is unusual for someone to develop schizophrenia at her age, but, it can happen. Either she has suffered from schizophrenia her entire life or something is happening in the present that you never saw before in connection with your sister.

There are many factors that can cause an older person to begin having psychotic experiences. Among those factors are such things as changes in her physical health, mini strokes, referred to as Multi Infarct Dementia, the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, Major Depression and, finally some type of disease process as I hinted at just before.

The point is that hearing voices is what we refer to as auditory hallucinations and is symptomatic of something extremely serious happening inside of the person’s body and brain.

Your sister needs to be seen by a medical doctor and have a complete medical work up, particularly by a neurologist who can determine whether some type of neurological disorder is happening to her.

My assumption is these experiences are new for your sister or you would not be writing us. You also report that this started happening a few years ago. It is a really good idea that you get your sister to see a medical doctor quickly. I do not know how cooperative she will be but I would refrain from arguing with her about the voices. You can not convince someone who hears voices that they are not real.

Good Luck

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