Is it common in Alzheimer’s disease for people (my mom) to talk to mirrors?

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, you will witness many of these altered perceptions from your mom. She is losing her judgment and ability to reason.

A mirror presents an unknown person to her, someone from an earlier period of her life, a younger version of herself, or perhaps a stalker or someone threatening from her past. It certainly, to her, is not her own reflection at this particular stage in her life. These behaviors are not uncommon in Alzheimer’s disease.

Seeing another person or talking to an imaginary person in the mirror is usually harmless. Unless it causes her anxiety or frustration, allow her to continue talking to that person in the mirror. It can assist her in her communication skills.

Additionally, during this discourse you may want to interject some questions. Use it as an opportunity to prompt some recollection of the past or even answer some questions that are lingering for you.

Some individuals with Alzheimer’s see strangers and/or stalkers in the mirror and if this happens to your mother, it can become a source of great fear for her. In this case, she needs reassurance and comfort. You might have to cover the mirrors in your home or remove them completely if her agitation escalates when she looks into the mirror.

As the disease progresses, your mom will retreat further and further into herself and her memories, which are now her present life. Stay with her in the present moment and you just might experience a glimpse into her past that you were never aware of before.

Questions about Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia disorder? Contact Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, Director of Services at Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, (225) 334-7494, advice@alzbr.org, or visit the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.