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  • Writer's pictureArwen Rasmussen

Vision Changes and Dementia

Submitted By Carla Berscheit, Dementia Care Specialist 

Most people understand that memory is impacted in someone living with dementia, but you may not realize that all of the senses are affected as the dementia progresses.  Changes in vision, hearing, taste and smell will occur.  Unfortunately, the person living with dementia may lose that ability to express these changes as they are occurring.  

As vision changes occur, the person living with dementia will lose their peripheral vision first, not only on the far right and left of the visual field, but also top and bottom of their visual field.  It will likely continue to diminish until they are left with mostly tunnel vision.  This loss of vision can impact the person living with dementia in their ability to safely navigate their environment.  For example, if you lose the bottom of your visual field, it may be difficult to see a turned-up corner of a rug, a low coffee table, a dog’s toy or an icy sidewalk.  These can all become tripping hazards.  Be aware of the surroundings a person with dementia is trying to maneuver.  Keep rooms and hallways well lit, remove low furniture, rugs and other trip hazards; and understand that they may need more assistance when out in less familiar environments like grocery stores and banks.  

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