February 12, 2020 by Dean Bellefeuille

Dementia and Vision

The intricate steps needed to enable us to see are mind-boggling. Within the blink of an eye, our brains are able to take transmitted specifics of the world all around us, translate that information based on input from other senses, memories, and thoughts, and then form an understanding of that information to make us aware of what we are seeing.

It’s no surprise that individuals with Alzheimer’s disease can experience visual deficits and vision loss, especially in the aspects of:

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

Furthermore, people diagnosed with dementia may often experience a distorted perception of reality in the form of illusions. As an example, an individual with dementia may see a shadow on the ground, and mistake it for something innocent, such as the family pet, or a danger, such as an intruder – which can present quite a challenge for family caregivers. Some other types of visual misperceptions in dementia include:

  • Misinterpreting reflections in glass or mirrors for another individual. This could lead to distress in thinking another person is there, or thinking that a restroom mirror reflection means the restroom is already occupied by another individual.
  • Thinking that images on television are real and taking place in the room.
  • Problems with sitting in a chair or on the toilet, fearing a fall.
  • Stress in overstimulating environments that can cause confusion.
  • Reaching for objects that are not there, or missing the mark in trying to grab an item.
  • Difficulties with self-feeding and drinking.

Here are a few ways you can help:

  • Maintain adequate lighting through the entire home, and take away any particular things that produce anxiety or visual confusion when possible.
  • Utilize contrasting colors whenever feasible, for example, serving dark-colored soup in a white bowl, or a fried egg on a brown plate. If possible, carry this notion through to home furnishings, with darker furniture on a light carpet, and different paint colors on trim vs. walls.
  • Close blinds or curtains both at night and anytime the sun causes a glare.
  • Make use of adaptive tools such as remote controls and phones with large buttons to provide the senior with adequate opportunities for independence.
  • Make sure the senior has regular access to eye care, and notify the ophthalmologist about the older adult’s dementia diagnosis.

Our professional dementia care team can help implement these tips and so much more to help with dementia and vision loss. Contact At Home Independent Living, the top rated memory care in Memphis, NY and the surrounding areas, today at (315) 579-HOME (4663) for more information.