Changes in vision that occur with age could cause certain symptoms often associated with dementia, such as hallucinations, leading to the assumption that they’re related to cognitive decline. Vision impairment can also cause a senior to misinterpret what he or she sees, which could also be mistaken for dementia. On the flip side, issues with dementia itself can also contribute to vision impairment.
Reduced Field of Vision
The natural aging process gradually reduces an older individual’s side field of vision, also referred to as peripheral vision. However, these changes are usually minimal and not likely to significantly interfere with daily life. But when an older adult has dementia, his or her overall field of vision may narrow even more because of the way certain parts of the brain are affected. This could be akin to permanently walking around with binoculars and attempting to maneuver through the immediate environment based solely on what’s seen through the binoculars.
Diminished Ability to Process Visual Information
As a dementia-related condition advances, the brain can have increased difficulty processing information from the five senses. To ease the stress that goes along with sorting through incoming information, the brain may shut down certain visual processes. These changes could eventually mean an older adult with dementia is only seeing through one eye even if both eyes technically work just fine otherwise. This reduced processing of visual information could contribute to:
• A loss of depth perception
• Increased confusion when seeing different color combinations and patterns
• A greater risk of falling because of an inability to accurately judge height
Vision impairment resulting from dementia may make it difficult for seniors to complete everyday tasks on their own. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of at-home care Barrie, ON, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
Unexplained Behavioral Changes
Changes in vision that are affected by dementia can make an older adult act in ways that may appear very strange to other people. For instance, seniors with an inability to correctly perceive what they’re seeing may grab at air. You might assume this is a sign of worsening dementia, but your loved one could be doing this because he or she is attempting to pick something up from a nearby table or counter and can’t clearly tell where it is. Changes with the eyes may also result in:
• Increased anxiety and stress
• Shifts in mood because of visual confusion
• A loss of independence
• Worsening symptoms if your loved one already has dementia
Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.
It’s not always easy to tell if an older adult has dementia-related problems, vision issues, or a combination of the two. For this reason, it’s best to have your loved one fully evaluated. This process may involve:
• A thorough physical and mental examination
• A review of his or her medical history
• Specialized cognitive function assessments
• A separate examination performed by an optometrist
• A comparison of results from physical, mental, and vision testing to look for possible connections
Treatment can be just as complicated. For example, medication may minimize certain dementia-related symptoms, resulting in enhancements with vision and perception for some older adults. However, the treatment recommendations will be different for each senior because of the many factors that can be involved.
Even when families have the best intentions, caring for a senior loved one with dementia can be challenging. Fortunately, Home Care Assistance is here to help. We are a leading provider of dementia care. Barrie families can take advantage of our flexible and customizable care plans, and our caregivers always stay up to date on the latest developments in senior care. To create a customized home care plan for your loved one, call Home Care Assistance at 705-503-2273 today.