The complicated, detailed steps related to making it possible for us to see are incredible. In the blink of an eye, our brains can take data sent from our environment, interpret that data in accordance with input from our other experiences, thoughts, and senses, and then develop an understanding of the information to help make us aware of what it is we’re witnessing.
It is understandable then that dementia may impact a person’s vision, leading to misunderstandings and visual deficits, especially in the areas of:
- Depth perception
- Color perception
- Motion recognition
- Peripheral vision
As though that were not frustrating enough, senior loved ones with dementia may suffer an altered sense of reality in the form of delusions. To illustrate, imagine a person with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia sees a shadow on the ground. The senior might mistake it for something innocent, such as the family’s pet dog, or a threat, like a burglar. Other types of visual misunderstandings in dementia could include:
- Misinterpreting their own reflections in a mirror or window for another person. This may lead the senior to think someone else is there, and in the case of a bathroom mirror, may lead the senior to avoid going in when needed, causing irritation and distress.
- Thinking that images from the television are real and happening in the room.
- Problems with sitting in a chair or on the toilet, fearing a fall.
- Feeling stressed in overstimulating situations that induce confusion.
- Reaching out for things that aren’t there, or missing the mark in attempting to grab something.
- Problems with eating and drinking.
Try these tips to assist a senior with dementia who have changes in vision:
- Ensure adequate lighting in the home, and take away any items that are causing anxiety or visual confusion, if at all possible.
- Use contrasting colors. For instance, serve a light-colored cream soup in a dark dish.
- Close all window blinds or drapes at nighttime and whenever the sunlight causes a glare.
- Use adaptive devices like remote controls and telephones with bigger buttons to help encourage the senior to maintain self-reliance regardless of visual obstacles.
At Anthem Home Care, a local provider of home health in Corpus Christi, TX and the surrounding communities, we are invested in making certain the older adults we care for are always safe and thriving. Our specially trained dementia care experts understand the visual and other changes that develop, and are equipped with creative, thoughtful methods to help.