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Caregiver Tip - Mirrors and Dementia

Every now and then I will post these short tips, techniques or strategies about caring for an aging adult.

Every now and then I will post short tips, techniques or strategies about caring for an aging adult.

Quite often those with dementia lose the ability to differentiate between what they see in the mirror (themselves or you) and reality. What they see in the mirror is another person . . . or even a crowd. Would you be eager to take your clothes off and bathe or use the toilet in front of a stranger who is inexplicably standing in your bathroom staring at you? I thought not.

Cover all the mirrors with a towel, small sheet, or pillowcase (depending on size) and see if that makes a difference. If it does, think about installing a roller blind or a mini blind above the mirrors that you can raise and lower. This is easier to manage when other people use the bathroom. They can easily raise the blind to use the mirror, and it can be left down the rest of the time.

Don't forget the small mirror on the medicine cabinet and the makeup / shaving mirror, etc. If there is anything that reflects in the tub or shower, remove it.

This small trick often reduces the degree of challenge involved in combining dementia and the need for hygiene.


Contact HeartWarming Care if you need help from caregivers for your aging loved one in the University Place and Tacoma area. We are dedicated to providing quality and affordable home care. Call (253) 460-1574.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Howard and Barbara Lee May 19, 2012 at 04:09 AM
Dementia is a terrible disease which has become more prevalent as people live longer. As I found out while caring for my mother, no one trains you for the challenges you will encounter when caring for an elderly parent with dementia. Mirrors are a problem, but so is the television. My mother used to talk to the television. This wasn't a serious problem for us since she was always supervised in our home. But those people with even mild dementia who live alone fall victim to television ads which request money. There's no end to the people who prey on those who can't care for themselves. Randy, thanks for making us aware of a situation which, unfortunately will probably affect all of us either personally or as a care giver. Howard
Randy Walden May 19, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Howard, thanks for your comments. This is a terrible disease, and you are never trained for it. The television is the worst, but folks use it as we always have, the electronic sitter. The images that come across are hard for a person with dementia to process, and it creates a lot more problems for the caregiver. Music is a better choice!
Susan Coulter May 20, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Thank you for the information. When caring for an elderly parent with dementia associated with parkinsons one does not always have all of the tips and tricks needed to work with the challenges related to the diseases. Yes, there were the days when she thought I was someone else but as I went along caring for my mother I was able to learn. One of the things I learned was that no matter how bad it was she liked to go to the Salon for her hair and mani/pedi.
Karen Coleman July 01, 2012 at 01:10 PM
My dad gets disoriented in the house a lot - can't find things or doesn't know what familiar things are. A company called Artnip has some pre-printed stickers and adhesive signs for the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, etc. Very helpful. http://www.zazzle.com/artnip

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