Seeing the World Differently: Exploring Vision Changes in Alzheimer’s

Older adult woman providing support for her mother who is experiencing vision changes in Alzheimer’s.

Family caregivers can help a loved one adapt to vision changes in Alzheimer’s with these tips.

The complex steps necessary to make it possible for us to use our sense of vision are mind-boggling. In the blink of an eye, our brains can take transmitted details from the world around us, translate that data based upon input from our other senses, thoughts, and experiences, and then develop an understanding of that information to help make us aware of what we are seeing.

It’s no surprise that vision changes in Alzheimer’s  cause misperceptions and visual deficits, especially in the areas of:

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

Not only that, but individuals who have Alzheimer’s often encounter an altered sense of reality in the form of illusions. For example, someone with Alzheimer’s might see a shadow on the floor, and mistake it for something harmless, like the family cat, or a danger, like an intruder. Additional types of visual misperceptions in Alzheimer’s can consist of:

  • Problems with sitting in a chair or on the toilet, fearing a fall.
  • 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.
  • Believing that images on TV are real and occurring in the room.
  • Difficulties with drinking and self-feeding.
  • Stress in overstimulating environments that causes confusion.
  • Reaching out for objects that aren’t there, or missing the mark in trying to grab something.

How Can You Help Someone Navigate Vision Changes in Alzheimer’s?

These approaches can help:

  • Maintain adequate lighting throughout the home, and remove any specific items that create stress or visual confusion whenever possible.
  • Use adaptive tools like remote controls and phones with larger buttons to help foster opportunities for independence.
  • Close the blinds and curtains, both in the evening and whenever the sunlight produces a glare.
  • Utilize contrasting colors whenever possible; for instance, serve cream-colored soup in a dark-colored bowl.

At Harmony Home Health & Hospice, a top-rated home health care provider in Salt Lake City, Tooele, Ogden, and the surrounding areas, we are dedicated to helping individuals remain safe and thriving in the comfort of home. To learn more, call us today at 1-877-I-NEED-CARE or contact us online. For a full list of the communities we serve in Utah and New Mexico, please visit our Service Area page.