How Dementia Affects Vision and Tips for Caregivers

Senior man with glasses sitting outside

Hillendale Home Care provides caregiver tips regarding how dementia affects vision.

The complex steps necessary to enable us to see are mind-boggling. In the blink of an eye, our brains can easily take transmitted specifics of the world around us, translate that information based on input from other senses, memories, and thoughts, and then build an understanding of that information to make us aware of what we are seeing. Since dementia affects vision, it’s not surprising that people with dementia can encounter visual deficits and misperceptions, specifically in the areas of:

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

Additionally, people diagnosed with dementia can oftentimes experience a distorted sense of reality in the form of illusions. For instance, someone with dementia might see a shadow on the floor, and mistake it for something innocuous, such as the family dog, or a danger, such as an intruder – which may present quite a challenge for family caregivers. Some other types of visual misperceptions that arise from the way dementia affects vision include:

  • Mistaking reflections in glass or mirrors for another person. This will cause distress in believing someone else is there, or thinking that a restroom mirror reflection means the washroom is already occupied by another person. 
  • Thinking that images on TV shows are real and occurring within the room.
  • Problems with sitting in a chair or on the toilet, fearing a fall.
  • Anxiety in overstimulating environments that can cause confusion.
  • Reaching for objects that aren’t there, or missing the mark in attempting to pick up an item.
  • Problems with self-feeding and drinking.

The following are some approaches to help:

  • Keep sufficient lighting throughout the home, and remove any particular items that produce anxiety or visual confusion when possible. 
  • Use contrasting colors anytime you can, for example, serving dark-colored soup in a white bowl, or a fried egg on a red plate. When possible, carry this notion through to home furnishings, with darker furniture on a light carpet, and different paint colors on trim vs. walls.
  • Close blinds or curtains both in the evenings and anytime the sun’s rays cause a glare. 
  • Take advantage of adaptive tools such as remote controls and phones with large buttons to provide the older adult with adequate opportunities for independence.
  • Ensure the senior has regular access to eye care. 

Our highly trained Alzheimer’s disease care team at Hillendale Home Care can help implement these strategies and more to reduce the effects of vision problems. Home care services can help both dementia patients and family members live fuller lives. Contact us online or give us a call at 925-933-8181 to learn more about our home care in Walnut Creek and the surrounding communities.