Understanding Dementia-Related Vision Problems

A young woman comforts her older mother who is suffering from dementia-related vision problems.

Due to how the brain processes sight, many people with Alzheimer’s suffer from dementia-related vision problems.

The many complicated steps required to allow us to see are almost unfathomable. In the blink of an eye, our brains can take transmitted information from the environment around us, translate those details in conjunction with input from our other senses, thoughts, and experiences, and then produce an understanding of that information to help us comprehend exactly what we are seeing.

It’s easy to see how someone with Alzheimer’s disease might encounter problems with processing the information needed to see clearly. Dementia-related vision problems can include misperceptions and visual deficits, particularly in the areas of:

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

To take it a step further, people with Alzheimer’s often experience an altered sense of reality in the form of illusions. For instance, someone with dementia might see a shadow on the wall, and mistake it for something harmless, like the family dog, or something dangerous, like an intruder. Other kinds of common dementia-related vision problems include:

  • Believing that images on TV are real and occurring in the room.
  • Problems with sitting in a chair or on the toilet, fearing a fall.
  • Difficulties with drinking and self-feeding.
  • Mistaking reflections in mirrors or glass for another person. This could cause distress in thinking somebody else is present, or believing that a bathroom mirror reflection means the restroom is occupied by another person.
  • Stress in overstimulating environments that causes confusion.
  • Reaching out for objects that aren’t there, or missing the mark in trying to grab something.

What Can You Do to Help Someone With Dementia-Related Vision Problems?

Try these tactics:

  • Maintain sufficient lighting throughout the home, and remove any particular items that create visual confusion or anxiety whenever possible.
  • Close the curtains and blinds, both in at nighttime and whenever the sunlight causes a glare.
  • Use adaptive tools like remote controls and phones with bigger buttons to help create opportunities for independence.
  • Utilize contrasting colors whenever possible; for instance, serve cream-colored soup in a dark-colored bowl.

At Advanced Home Health Care, the leading provider of dementia care in Keokuk, Burlington, Mediapolis, and the surrounding areas, we are committed to ensuring older adults are safe and thriving in the comfort of home.

Our award-winning care team can help with specialized memory care activities, a home safety assessment, companionship, reminiscing, and more. Contact us at 800.791.7785 for more information.

The Care You Need. The Quality You Deserve.