When we talk about the link between vision, hearing loss, and dementia, it is quite clear. The risk of each of these conditions increases with age. And this explains why people with vision or hearing loss are at a greater risk of dementia. Additionally, people with dementia are more prone to losing their vision and sense of hearing. Let’s explore this in detail.
Dementia and Vision Loss
Since dementia and loss of vision are both interrelated, a dementia patient may lose their sense of sight somewhere down the road. In fact, loss of vision is one of the signs in the later stages of dementia, as this propensity already increases with age.
What dementia caregivers need to understand is that vision problems in dementia patients increase their agitation, confusion, and anxiety. You might find it harder to deal with a loved one who has dementia and is now slowly starting to experience problems with their vision. Understanding how dementia affects vision will help you provide better and more compassionate care to your loved ones.
Vision Changes with Dementia
Here are some vision changes that dementia patients might face.
1. Narrowed Visual Field
A visual field is an area that falls in the range of your eyes. Unfortunately, dementia has the capacity to reduce your visual field by 12 inches. This means that a dementia patient with a reduced visual field will see less than a normal person would as if they are wearing binoculars. They might not be able to see objects in plain sight, which may pose difficulty for the affected person, hampering their mobility.
2. Loss of Peripheral Vision
A peripheral vision is our ability to see from the corner of our eyes. This enables us to see things that aren’t in our line of sight without having to move our heads. With age and the progression of the disease, dementia patients might lose their peripheral vision, which may cause them to trip over chairs or other furniture and bump into doors. In this case, dementia caregivers may need to exercise more caution and attentiveness towards their loved ones with dementia.
Dementia patients, along with increasing age, lead to blurry vision. They may not be able to see faces and objects that clearly, and this may lead to increased confusion, already a sign of dementia. Dementia patients may withdraw more due to this inability to see clearly, read or write properly.
Signs of Vision Problems in Dementia Patients:
- Frequently tripping over objects
- Behavioral changes
- Inability to recognize faces and objects
- Inability to see clearly even with glasses on
Hearing Loss and Dementia
Cognitive decline and hearing loss are related, which puts dementia patients at higher risk of hearing loss. A study even shows that people with hearing problems were more prone to develop dementia as compared to people with normal hearing. This may be cited to the fact that people with a hearing disability may have to use their brain more profoundly, which may deplete their brain’s resources that could be used for other activities.
Most often, the more advanced stages of dementia incur the risk of hearing loss. Vascular Dementia has the capacity to adversely affect the auditory pathway and auditory cortex, which can deteriorate an affected person’s ability to hear properly.
Signs of Hearing Loss in Dementia Patients:
- Difficulty understanding conversations and words
- Turning up the volume of the television to hear properly
- Asking others to speak louder
- Withdrawing from conversations
- Avoiding social settings
How to Help Dementia Patients with Vision and Hearing Loss?
Dementia is a difficult battle for people. It causes cognitive deterioration, which is accompanied by confusion, feelings of isolation, and depression. In all of this, the job of dementia caregivers is often undermined, even though they can experience burnout caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease or other types of Dementia.
When dementia patients start losing their vision and hearing ability, they become more difficult and are often harder to get through. Understanding their ordeal and knowing how to help them cope will allow caregivers to offer them the support they need during this difficult time.
Here are a few tips for families of dementia patients with vision and hearing problems.
1. Ensure Proper Eye Care
Even though vision loss is often a byproduct of dementia, you can help mitigate the risk with proper eye care for dementia patients. Make sure they get regular eye tests and their glasses are updated to aid their sight and clean at all times, so they don’t interfere with their vision at any cost.
2. Create a Familiar, Clutter-Free Space
When a person’s vision deteriorates, along with their memory, their family should try to de-clutter their surroundings. Make sure there is minimal, i.e. only necessary furniture items in the room, and that all of them are familiar to the dementia patient. Also, use contrasting colors so that they can easily see colors even with a compromised vision without bumping into things.
Depending on what the person is experiencing, you should communicate to help make things clearer for them. This way, they would feel more informed and wouldn’t be caught off-guard. For example, telling a dementia patient with vision problems when you are leaving the room or going to sit next to them. This way, you would be able to regain their trust.
4. Reduce Background Noise
When a person has compromised hearing, you should reduce background noise or interruptions so they are able to focus on what you are saying or listening to music. This will alleviate some of their anxiety that comes with an inability to hear properly.
5. Get Regular Hearing Checks
Since people with dementia are at risk of hearing loss, you should get regular checks to prevent, or at least delay this problem. Consult their doctor to get hearing aids if need be to make their day-to-day lives better.
6. Use Gestures
A person with hearing loss may feel perturbed, so try to communicate with them through gestures or lip reading. If they also have vision problems, you should do all of this in close proximity so they don’t feel uncomfortable when talking to others, which may cause them to retract from social situations.
Dementia, vision, and hearing loss are all interrelated and can take a toll on the affected person’s mental and physical health. Knowing how cognitive decline causes these issues will help dementia caregivers extend better and more informed care to their loved ones to make their lives as comfortable as possible.
We Are Here To Help
At Sycamore Creek Ranch Memory Care we are here to help. We want families to make the best decision for their situation
Furthermore, the staff at Sycamore Creek Ranch is proactive. That means we are not waiting for a problem to arise. Instead, we are actively engaged with each and every resident. And with only 16 residents we can do that!
If you are looking for Memory Care in The Woodlands or Memory Care in Spring, Texas come for a tour at Sycamore Creek Ranch! See how we can help.