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  • Writer's pictureThe Care Company

Understanding the Sensory Impact of Dementia


A woman begins to see the sensory impact of dementia while dining with her elderly father.
Understanding the sensory impact of dementia can help you better prepare for your loved one’s behaviors and care needs.

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 types of dementia, but there are so many other facets of life that are affected as well. In fact, each one of the five senses can be altered in many ways that are important to understand.


What Sensory Changes Are Typical in Dementia?

Following are some of examples of the sensory impact of dementia that you may possibly notice in a family member:


Taste and Smell: These senses are often the first to change. The decline in the ability to taste and smell 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 as well as other dangerous materials safely away, check the person’s food supply routinely to make certain food is fresh, and make sure smoke detectors are operational throughout the home.


Touch: the individual may lose the ability to detect heat and cold, putting them at an increased risk for burns and other injuries. Safety-proof the stove, reduce the hot water heater temperature, and make certain the person is dressed appropriately for the air temperature, both in the house and outdoors.


Vision: The brain’s ability to interpret what the individual is seeing could cause confusion. It may also result in an elevated likelihood of falling, as patterns on the ground, shadows, and lighting might be mistaken for three-dimensional objects. Depth perception is frequently also impacted. Whenever possible, use contrasting colors to lessen these effects.


Hearing: While the individual may be able to hear just fine, auditory processing changes may make it hard to understand what is being said. It also can lead to anxiety when there are loud background noises and distractions in the environment. Speak slowly and clearly, using short, one-thought statements, and use pictures and other visuals as needed for more effective communication.


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

  • Wandering

  • Agitation

  • Aggression

  • Confusion

  • Hallucinations

  • Repetitive behaviors

  • Anxiety and fear

  • Sundowning

  • And far more

Want more information about the sensory impact of dementia? Contact us online or at 416-422-2273 for a complimentary in-home consultation for more information on our specialized dementia care in Toronto, Scarborough, North York, and the surrounding areas, and find out exactly how we can make life the best it can be each day for someone you love.

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