How Dementia Affects Visual-Spatial Abilities

Seniors with dementia who are also living with visual-spatial problems aren’t aware of their surroundings and may have difficulty remembering certain things, including visual images and perceptions of people and objects. Below are some visual-spatial issues seniors with dementia experience and what family caregivers can do to alleviate many of these problems, brought to you by Coast Care Partners, a leading provider of compassionate elderly home care La Mesa families can rely on.

Depth Perception

Dementia can prevent seniors from seeing clearly with both eyes, and the brain won’t be able to process those images effectively. As a result, aging adults may face difficulty with depth perception. The visual-spatial problems can cause behavioral challenges and put your aging loved one’s safety at risk. He or she may have a difficult time judging distances or changes in elevation. Distinguishing between a flat picture and three-dimensional objects may become even more challenging as dementia progresses.

Other visual-spatial problems include:

• Poor color perception
• Reduced motion detection ability
• Contrast sensibility
• Poor peripheral vision

Negative Impact on Daily Life

Other visual-spatial problems seniors with dementia experience include wandering and difficulty operating vehicles safely. Getting lost, even in familiar environments, is more likely if your loved one has visual-spatial impairments. When your loved one is trying to operate a motor vehicle, the decrease in abilities could prevent making the right turns or parking the car correctly. As visual-spatial skills continue to decrease, your family must decide on your loved one’s living arrangements and driving privileges.

Testing Abilities

You can measure the significance of the visual-spatial problems your loved one has by monitoring his or her actions. For example, you can have your loved one use a marker or smartphone to duplicate a complex photo of an animal, person, or any object. If your loved one is unable to recognize the person or object, he or she is likely experiencing visual-spatial problems that prevent him or her from identifying familiar things. Hallucinations and delusions are also common, so watch how he or she reacts when looking in a mirror. If your loved one’s spatial abilities are impaired, he or she may think someone else is in the room instead of recognizing his or her own reflection.

Caregiving Tips

When family caregivers understand the visual-spatial issues that impact seniors with dementia, they can anticipate many problems and explain things better to their elderly loved ones. For example, if you notice your parent is avoiding going into areas of the home that have a shiny glare, you can walk into those rooms to show him or her the environment is safe. Don’t rush your loved one at any time. Instead, allow him or her to adjust to things at his or her own pace. Regardless of how bad the visual-spatial impairment gets, remember to offer support and encouragement. While going out on errands, don’t walk fast. Slower movements allow your loved one to keep up and may make him or her more comfortable moving around instead of fearing he or she will misjudge distances and fall into people or objects.

Caring for an aging loved one with dementia can be extremely challenging for any family. Fortunately, families can call on Coast Care Partners for help. We are a premier provider of dementia home care. La Mesa families can customize their own care plans, and our caregivers are thoroughly trained in the most current methods of senior care. Call us today at 619-354-2544 to learn about our high-quality at-home services.