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4 Ways Dementia Changes a Senior’s Visual Perception

By Home Care Assistance, 9:00 am on August 15, 2016

Dementia can cause many symptoms, most of which affect the brain in some way. Though memory loss is most commonly associated with this disease, many people may not realize dementia can have a significant impact on a senior’s visual perception as well. If your elderly loved one has dementia, you might be interested in learning about its effects on vision. The Phoenix dementia care experts at Home Care Assistance discuss 4 ways dementia can change a senior’s visual perception.

1. Hallucination

Seniors with dementia often see a distorted reality. A hallucination involves “seeing” or “perceiving” things like animals, people, or objects that are not really there, and an illusion may occur due to an object’s characteristics. For example, a toilet that is the same color as the wall behind it may seem to disappear. You can help your loved one prevent these occurrences by using medium contrasting colors to highlight objects you want him or her to see.

2. Misidentification

Damage to certain parts of the brain may make it difficult for your loved one to identify and remember the name of everyday objects or familiar people. While this can be frustrating, it is important to avoid focusing on the mistakes or correcting your loved one constantly. Instead, offer frequent reminders or use visual clues and gestures to aid in communication.

3. Depth Perception

When combined with age-related vision changes, the visuoperceptual complications associated with dementia can lead to difficulties with depth perception. Your loved one might bump into things, swerve to avoid doorframes, and step high over shadows or changes in flooring. You can help your loved one by ensuring there is adequate lighting throughout the house and using reflecting tape to indicate level changes.

4. Misinterpretation

Visual perception issues can arise when the brain misinterprets what it is seeing. For example, a high-gloss floor may appear wet, or a dark floor mat may appear to be a deep hole. Seniors with dementia can interpret shadows or reflections as something frightening, such as an intruder. This may become worse in the late afternoon and evening when sundowning can cause increased confusion and anxiety. You can help by removing excess decorative mirrors, closing blinds and curtains, and turning on extra lights to eliminate shadows.

If your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia or you have noticed symptoms that indicate he or she may be developing the condition, consider hiring a professional dementia caregiver. At Phoenix Home Care Assistance, we train all of our caregivers in the revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to help slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. For more information on CTM and the elderly care Phoenix families trust, call one of our knowledgeable Care Managers at 602.388.1085 today.