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Additional Health Problems

A person with Alzheimer's may have other medical problems over time, as all older adults do. These problems can cause more confusion and behavior changes.

Problems and Solutions: Additional Health Problems

Health

Could poor vision or hearing be part of the problem?
Poor vision and hearing can leave people with dementia frustrated, scared, or confused. It can make routine tasks like dressing, bathing, or meals more difficult. It can also lead to “hearing noises” which are normal daily sounds, or misinterpreting things like shadows. These misinterpretations can lead to further agitation or even hallucinations.
  •  Make sure they wear their glasses and hearing aides to help them function better in their environment and when traveling outside the home
  • Explain any misinterpretations, such as, “That is just a shadow. See how it disappears when I turn the light on” or “that pounding noise is the men working outside.”
  • Have vision and hearing checked regularly by a professional

Many people with dementia also develop monocular vision, meaning they see with just one eye. As a result, they have no peripheral vision or depth perception; they see only what is directly in front of them. Color contrast is also a problem, so try to avoid plates that are the same color as the table or placemats, all white in bathrooms, white toothpaste on a white brush, etc.

Have they been screened for a psychiatric illness in addition to the dementia?

While hallucinations, screaming, paranoia, and accusatory behavior are often seen in Alzheimer’s patients, people with dementia can also suffer from psychiatric illnesses not associated with the disease. An evaluation from a psychiatrist or primary care physician may be helpful to determine if this is the case and whether treatment would be helpful.

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