Making Sense of the Dementia-Related Changes to the Five Senses

An elderly man is experiencing dementia-related changes to the five senses as he sits with his daughter at a dining table outdoors.
Find out what dementia-related changes to the five senses you may expect to detect in someone you love.

When we think about dementia, the first thing that typically springs to mind is the loss of memory. Cognitive decline is a hallmark effect of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, but there are so many other areas of life that are impacted as well. As a matter of fact, dementia-related changes to the five senses are common and important to understand.

What Sensory Changes Are Typical in Dementia?

Following are some of the changes you may possibly 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 house. Lock cleaning supplies and other dangerous materials safely away, check the individual’s food supply routinely to ensure food is fresh, and also make sure smoke detectors are operational throughout the home.

Hearing: While the person might be able to hear just fine, auditory processing changes can make it difficult to understand what is being said. It also 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 as well as other visuals as needed for more effective communication.

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

Touch: the individual may lose the ability to detect cold and hot, putting them at risk for burns as well as other injuries. Safety-proof the stove, reduce the hot water heater temperature, and make certain 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 quality of life. We are able to help effectively manage and defuse the many intricate and challenging effects of dementia, including:

  • Wandering
  • Agitation
  • Aggression
  • Restlessness
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Sundowning
  • And far more

Want to learn more about dementia-related changes to the five senses, or any other aspects of dementia? Contact us at 213-383-2273 for a free in-home consultation to learn more about our specialized dementia care in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Santa Monica, and also the surrounding areas and how we can make life the best it can be every day for someone you love.