Visual Changes and Dementia

Ben Budd
October 10, 2022
October 10, 2022

A person with dementia can have visual changes.

We can consider adapting an environment for somebody who’s beginning to have problems and this will reduce any stress they may experience and can really impact on the well-being of both of you.

Strategies

Eye contact

Often a person may not understand the information that we’re giving them, they may not understand what they need to do next, but they will use your face to get those cues, so it is so important that a person can see our face, and particularly our eyes.

Approach

A person with dementia may lose some of their peripheral vision, so they might see things a little like it would be if you were wearing a pair of binoculars. It also means that they may lose some of the depth perception and could be struggling to recognise objects. Make sure you are in front, but slightly to the side of them. They may not know you are there or see you if you to their side.

Time to adjust

It can take a person much longer to process things they see and to shift their focus from one thing to another.

Use bright and contrasting colours

If we provide a bright coloured mug or glass, for example, the person is more likely to see it on the table in front of them and far more likely to pick it up and have a drink.

Declutter

So that there aren’t too many objects in front of a person, and they don’t have to process lots of information all at once.

Use traditionally shaped objects

These will make sense to a person with dementia.

Bright lighting

Avoid shadows as these can cause problems. A brightly lit environment reduces the number of shadows which can be misinterpreted and also improves the ability to do tasks and manipulate tasks.

Distractions/Misinterpretations

Be careful about the flooring that we choose, as for a person it may be misinterpreted as a risky place to walk e.g. a shiny, glittery vinyl flooring may begin to look like slippery water, which a person would want to avoid. Dark rugs on a light carpet may be interpreted as a huge gaping hole in the floor, swirls on a carpet might be seen as worms or snakes.

Crockery

Can you imagine being asked to eat up your food when there appears to be nothing in the bowl? This could happen if you had a white bowl with porridge in it where the colours don’t stand out from each other, or if you had a plate of food and somebody cleared it away when you feel you haven’t finished eating? but what you were actually seeing is blackberries on a plate in the pattern of the plate.

Removing distractions or confusing items

This can help a person to focus on using the item they need to use e.g. remove a fork from the table if eating soup.

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