Be Aware of Distractions

Today’s insight discusses being aware of distractions. Clutter! The importance of simplifying the environment for loved ones with dementia.

Transcription of Video:

I’m Deb Nygaard from Arthur’s Residential Care with today’s Insights from Arthur’s.

Today I want to talk about distractions. Clutter is a very common thing for someone who is older. It can be very visually distracting. As a person with dementia progresses through the disease, his or her ability to filter out unnecessary things is diminished.

I have an example here of a formal table place setting. You can see I have a white plate on top of another white plate on a white tablecloth. It can be hard to distinguish what’s what, especially if the food on the white plate is light colored. As we age our visual acuity diminishes; corneas yellow and we also develop cataracts; if we haven’t been in for an eye exam in years our vision may be uncorrected. Having contrasting colors between table, plates, and food is helpful. You can also see that there is just a lot going on here with a complicated table setting.

As dementia progresses we lose our ability to discern what objects are for. For example we might see a cup and we might be thirsty, but we might not recognize a cup as a way to deliver liquid into our mouths. So your loved one might look at this table setting and not be able to figure out what to do with it — a person might not discern which are food items, or she might pick up the table cloth and try and wipe their mouth with that. Now think about what your reaction is going to be when your mom does this or if she tries to wash the dishes with the table cloth or something. It would be easy for your reaction be out of proportion to the crime of simple confusion–you might react saying, “MOM!!”

To avoid this problem I suggest you minimize this type of setup. Get rid of center pieces, tablecloths, place mats–everything. Have a plate, a fork, a napkin and that’s it. You could keep the water glass close to where you are seated and just present the glass as needed.

I’m Deb Nygaard with Arthur’s Residential Care.

Contact Deb Nygaard
Director of Development
Arthur’s Residential Care: 651-429-4798