Tips for Managing Dementia and Eyesight Changes

African american senior man posing thoughtfully
A senior loved one with dementia may experience eyesight changes.

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 information on the environment all around us, translate that information based on input from other senses, memories, and thoughts, and then shape an understanding of that information to make us aware of what we’re seeing.

It’s not surprising that dementia and eyesight changes go hand-in-hand. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease can suffer from visual deficits and misperceptions, especially in the aspects of:

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

Additionally, those diagnosed with dementia can often suffer from a distorted perception of reality in the form of illusions. For example, an individual with dementia might see a shadow on the floor, and confuse it for something harmless, such as the family dog, or a threat, such as an intruder – which can present quite a challenge for family caregivers. Other types of visual misperceptions in dementia include:

  • Misjudging reflections in glass or mirrors for another individual. This might cause distress in believing someone else is present, or thinking that a bathroom mirror reflection means the restroom is already occupied by another individual.
  • Believing that images on television are real and happening within the room.
  • Problems with sitting in a chair or on the toilet, fearing a fall.
  • Distress in overstimulating environments that can cause confusion.
  • Reaching for things that aren’t there, or missing the mark in trying to grab an item.
  • Difficulties with self-feeding and drinking.

Here are some techniques to help:

  • Keep sufficient lighting throughout the residence, and take away any specific things that trigger anxiety or visual confusion if at all possible.
  • Incorporate contrasting colors whenever you can, for example, serving dark-colored soup in a light-colored bowl, or a fried egg on a black plate. When possible, carry this idea 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 causes a glare.
  • Make use of adaptive tools and technology such as remote controls and telephones with large buttons to provide the senior with adequate opportunities for independence.
  • Make sure your loved one has ongoing access to eye care, and notify the eye doctor about the senior’s dementia diagnosis.

The experienced Alzheimer’s disease caregivers from Heaven at Home Senior Care, the top experts in respite care in Denton,  can help implement these ideas and more to minimize the effects of vision problems. Contact us online or call (866) 381-0500 anytime for help with dementia and eyesight changes or to learn more our respite care in Denton and surrounding areas.