Vision is one of the most important senses, allowing us to gain a plethora of information using only our eyes. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias can have a significant impact on the visual processing system. While Alzheimer’s is particularly known to have devastating effects on an individual’s cognition and memory, the disease can also interfere with the way the brain interprets visual information. In some cases, visual stimulation has been shown to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Bright light therapy is one of the most basic forms of visual therapy found effective in patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. In some instances, light therapy can help enhance a patient’s mood or promote more restful sleep. In addition to lights made specifically for light therapy, alternative light sources include direct sunlight, objects that reflect the rays of the sun, or mirrors that reflect incoming light.
Movies and Video
Movies and video not only produce auditory stimulation, but also visual. When choosing a film for entertainment, opt for an older movie with a basic plot that the individual can easily follow. A favorite film of the person is a great choice, as he or she will likely remember parts of the movie. Films with attractive visuals, such as those set in nature, are also excellent choices.
If possible, expose individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia to multi-sensory activities that stimulate more than one sense at a time. Humans are born with five senses: smell, touch, sight, taste, and hearing. Good examples of multisensory activities include cooking, games, reading, or sorting items.
Many caregivers fail to consider how a space is decorated for patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Creating a visually stimulating atmosphere can be highly beneficial for someone with this type of cognitive impairment. Incorporate decorations with soothing colors that are simplistic in nature to minimize distractions. Hang photographs in the home to lift the spirits and enforce positivity.
For individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, visual stimulation can provide a better quality of life. Not all patients will respond the same way to certain stimulates, so it’s important to try various activities until you find one that you deem effective.