How do I care for someone who has dementia and sight loss?

Caring for somebody with dementia and sight loss can be quite challenging and a person-centred, individual approach is essential. Dementia and sight loss may each cause confusion or disorientation and lead to loss of independence, activities and social contact.

If you think someone with dementia has sight loss, then you should arrange for them to have an eye test. The optician can then refer them to an ophthalmologist who can diagnose an eye condition if there is one. Knowing what eye condition someone has may give you an idea of the kind of sight loss they have and how best to care for them. Eye tests are free to people aged over 60.

There are a number of steps you can take to try and avoid confusion, and help increase the independence of someone with sight loss and dementia. For example:

  • If the person needs glasses, make sure the person is wearing them when needed. Label different glasses for different tasks to help the person find them.
  • In buildings, provide good even lighting and try to eliminate shadows.
  • Remove busy patterns on walls, furniture and floors. Remove shiny surfaces that cause glare. Changes in floor surfaces or patterns can make it more difficult for people to move around.
  • Minimise visual and physical obstacles to reduce the chance of collisions.

See our webpage on dementia and sight loss for more information. RNIB is part of the dementia and sight loss Vision 2020 working group. The working group has produced a factsheet of FAQs for friends, family and carers.

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