Impacts of Dementia on Vision and Tips for Caregivers

pondering senior man

Understanding the impacts of dementia on vision can help family caregivers create a safe environment for loved ones.

The complicated steps needed to enable us to see are mind-boggling. In the blink of an eye, our brains have the ability to take transmitted details on the environment around us, translate that information based on input from other senses, memories, and thoughts, and then shape an understanding of the information to help with making us aware of what we are seeing.

It is not surprising 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

Furthermore, individuals diagnosed with dementia can frequently suffer from a distorted perception of reality in the form of illusions. As an example, an individual with Alzheimer's disease might see a shadow on the ground, and mistake it for something innocuous, such as the family dog, or a hazard, such as an intruder – which may pose quite a challenge for family caregivers. Other types of visual misperceptions in Alzheimer's disease include:

  • Mistaking reflections in glass or mirrors for another person. This may cause distress in believing someone else is there, or believing that a bathroom mirror reflection means the restroom is already occupied by another person.
  • Thinking that images on TV shows are real and occurring in the room.
  • Difficulty with sitting in a chair or on the toilet, being afraid of a fall.
  • Distress in overstimulating surroundings that can cause confusion.
  • Reaching for things that aren’t there, or missing the mark in attempting to pick up an item.
  • Issues with self-feeding and drinking.

Below are a few techniques to help:

  • Keep sufficient lighting through the entire house, and remove any particular items which trigger distress or visual confusion if possible.
  • Incorporate contrasting colors as much as possible, 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 idea 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 whenever the sun's rays cause a glare.
  • Make full use of adaptive tools such as remote controls and telephones with large buttons to provide the senior with ample opportunities for independence.
  • Confirm the senior has regular access to eye care, and notify the ophthalmologist of the senior’s dementia diagnosis.

Our experienced team specializes in dementia care in St. Clair County, MI and the surrounding area and can help implement these tips and more to lessen the impacts of dementia on vision. Contact Relevar Home Care at 888-493-3513 for more information.