How Dementia Affects All Five Senses

An older man and his daughter sit at a dining table outdoors.When we think about dementia, the first thing that typically comes to mind is the loss of memory. Cognitive decline is a hallmark effect of Alzheimer’s disease along with other forms of dementia, but there are so many other areas of life which are impacted as well. In fact, each of the five senses may be altered in many ways that are important to understand.

What Sensory Changes Are Common in Dementia?

Following are some of the changes you could notice in a family member with dementia:

Taste and Smell: These senses are frequently the first to change. The decline in the ability to smell and taste could lead the individual to eat food that has spoiled, drink a cleaning fluid or some other toxic substance, and remain unaware if something is burning on the stove or in the home. Lock cleaning supplies and other hazardous materials safely away, check the person’s food supply routinely to make certain food is fresh, and also make sure smoke detectors are operational throughout the home.

Hearing: While the person may be able to hear just fine, auditory processing changes may make it hard to understand what’s being said. In addition it can result in anxiety when there are loud background noises and distractions in the environment. Speak clearly and slowly, using short, one-thought statements, and make use of pictures along with other visuals as needed for more effective communication.

Vision: The brain’s ability to interpret what the person is seeing may cause confusion. It can also lead to a heightened likelihood of falling, as patterns on the floor, shadows, and lighting may be mistaken for three-dimensional objects. Depth perception is often also impacted. Whenever possible, use contrasting colors to lessen these effects.

Touch: The person may lose the ability to detect cold and hot, putting them at risk for burns as well as other injuries. Safety-proof the stove, lower the hot water heater temperature, and ensure the individual is dressed appropriately for the air temperature, both in the house and outdoors.

An in-home caregiver is the perfect addition to the care plan of someone with dementia. Our experienced and trained professionals can decrease safety hazards while improving total wellbeing. We are able to help effectively manage and defuse the many challenging and intricate effects of dementia, including:

  • Wandering
  • Agitation
  • Aggression
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Sundowning
  • And much more

Contact us at 727-940-3414 for a free in-home consultation for more information on our specialized dementia care and how we are able to make life the very best it can be every day for someone you love.