pondering senior man

Dementia vision issues can cause misperceptions. Learn how to help.

The complex steps needed to enable us to see are mind-boggling. In the blink of an eye, our brains can easily take transmitted specifics of the environment all around us, translate that information based on input from other senses, experiences, and thoughts, and then shape an understanding of the information to make us aware of what we’re seeing.

It is no surprise that those with Alzheimer’s disease can encounter visual deficits and misperceptions, particularly in the areas of:

  • Depth and/or color perception
  • Contrast
  • Motion detection
  • Peripheral vision

Moreover, individuals with dementia can frequently suffer from a distorted sense of reality in the form of illusions. For instance, an individual with dementia could see a shadow on the ground, and mistake it for something harmless, such as the family dog, or a hazard, such as an intruder – which can pose quite a challenge for family caregivers. Some other examples of visual misperceptions in dementia include:

  • Misjudging reflections in glass or mirrors for another individual. This could easily cause distress in believing another individual is there, or believing that a washroom mirror reflection means the bathroom is currently occupied by someone else.
  • Believing that images on television are real and occurring within the room.
  • Problems with sitting in a chair or on the toilet, being afraid of a fall.
  • Anxiety in overstimulating environments that causes confusion.
  • Reaching for objects that aren’t there, or missing the mark in trying to grab an item.
  • Troubles with self-feeding and drinking.

Below are some ways to help when dementia affects vision:

  • Keep sufficient lighting through the entire home, and take away any specific things that cause anxiety or visual confusion when possible.
  • Utilize contrasting colors whenever feasible, such as serving dark-colored soup in a light-colored bowl, or a fried egg on a black plate. If at all possible, carry this concept through to home furnishings, with darker furniture on a light carpet, and differing paint colors on trim vs. walls.
  • Close blinds or curtains both at night and whenever the sun’s rays cause a glare.
  • Make use of adaptive tools such as remote controls and telephones with large buttons to provide the senior loved one with sufficient opportunities for independence.
  • Confirm your loved one has ongoing access to eye care, and notify the ophthalmologist of the older adult’s dementia diagnosis.

Our professional team in dementia care in Norcross can help implement these recommendations and many more to ensure safety for a senior loved one. Call us to learn more about our home care in Norcross and the surrounding areas.