Community Blog

Changes in Vision and Perception Associated with Dementia

By Ketan Shah

It’s important to understand the changes that are occurring with your parent who has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Understanding how their perception of the world has changed allows you to see through their eyes and provides you with the insights that, as a family caregiver, makes your day-to-day exchanges that much sweeter and easier on both you and your parent. Vision involves information that is transmitted from the eyes to the brain. The damage that is occurring in your parent’s brain can affect this delicate transmission, ultimately affecting both vision and perception. It is estimated that 60 percent of those with Alzheimer’s have varying degrees of visual decline.

Visuoperceptual Changes

It can be difficult to determine when someone experiencing dementia is delusional or actually perceiving their world differently due to damage to their visual system. Becoming aware of how you parent may be seeing their world will help you to differentiate.

  • They may see the world as a series of still frames instead of as a moving picture. In so doing, they lose their ability to detect movement.
  • The loss of depth perception causes three-dimensional figures to appear flat.
  • Colors in the blue-violet range appear harder to distinguish.
  • Objects that are the same color blend into one another. For instance, they may not be able to see the beige chair that is in front of the beige wall.
  • Problems identifying objects or people due to damaged areas of the brain. This explains why they may have difficulty telling the difference between you and your sister, and why they cannot always put a name to what they are seeing.

These changes can lead to a number of the reactions you may see in your parent such as difficulty reaching for things, bumping into objects and getting lost in familiar settings. Lack of contrast will make it difficult for them to distinguish items of the same color. Stairs may not be easily navigated and faces can appear in inanimate objects.

Living in a world that is difficult to navigate may lead to confusion and agitation.

Tips for Caregivers

Take a new look at their home environment with the above information in mind, and make the necessary changes that can make your parent’s home feel safer and more comforting.

  • Try to contrast colors. Paint a wall a dark color if the furniture against it is a light color. Make sure the toilet is a contrasting color to its surroundings. Red is easier to see than colors in the blue-violet range—make changes accordingly. Place colored rugs in front of doors.
  • Ensure their environment is brightly lit. Reduce glare that can cause confusion by putting lampshade on all lamps and installing adjustable mini-blinds.
  • Make floors all one material and color.

Home Care Provider

Caring for a loved one with dementia will produce both challenging and breathtakingly-beautiful moments. Make the best of your time together and try not to take anything personally. The changes you are seeing are a result of a disease and not your parent’s personality. Make sure you take time to rejuvenate and spend time doing the things you love. Consider obtaining the services of a senior care provider to care for your loved one during the times that you are caring for yourself.

Resources
www.alz.org/centralohio/documents/vision_problems_associated_with_alzheimers.doc

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring caregivers in San Jose, CA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers today (408) 259-5930.