The Unique Vision Problems with Dementia and How to Help

The Unique Vision Problems with Dementia and How to Help

The intricate steps required to enable us to see are mind-boggling. In the blink of an eye, our brains are able to take transmitted information about the world all around us, translate that information based on input from other senses, memories, and thoughts, and then shape a perception of the information for making us aware of what we’re seeing. 

It is not a surprise that there are unique vision problems with dementia, particularly in the aspects of:

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

Furthermore, those diagnosed with dementia can frequently experience a distorted sense of reality in the form of illusions. As an example, someone with dementia might see a shadow on the ground, and mistake it for something innocent, such as the family pet, or a threat, such as an intruder – which can present quite a challenge for family caregivers. Other types of vision problems with dementia can consist of:

  • Misinterpreting reflections in glass or mirrors for another individual. This can lead to distress in thinking somebody else is there, or believing that a restroom mirror reflection means the washroom is already occupied by another person. 
  • Thinking that images on television are real and taking place within the room.
  • Difficulty with sitting in a chair or on the toilet, being afraid of a fall.
  • Stress in overstimulating environments that causes confusion.
  • Reaching for things that aren’t there, or missing the mark in trying to pick up an item.
  • Issues with self-feeding and drinking.

Below are a few techniques to help:

  • Keep sufficient lighting throughout the house, and take away any specific things that cause anxiety or visual confusion if at all possible. 
  • Use contrasting colors anytime you can, such as serving dark-colored soup in a white bowl, or a fried egg on a red plate. Whenever possible, carry this notion through to home furnishings, with darker furniture on a light carpet, and differing paint colors on trim vs. walls.
  • Close blinds or curtains both in the evenings and anytime the sun causes a glare. 
  • Make use of adaptive tools, such as remote controls and phones with large buttons, to provide the older adult with sufficient opportunities for independence.
  • Make sure your loved one has ongoing access to eye care, and notify the ophthalmologist of the older adult's dementia diagnosis. 

Our professional Windsor-Essex senior care team can help implement these tips and more to lessen the effects of vision problems. Contact us online or give us a call at 519.915.4370 to find out more.