Alzheimer’s disease causes a continual decline in vision and perception along with the loss of cognitive functioning. Your dad will struggle to make sense of the world around him, which can be distressing and lonely for him.

You can promote a safe, supportive and calming atmosphere for your dad by making some changes to the physical surroundings.

Incorporating color into your dad's environment will help significantly. Color and contrast in rooms helps define objects, and that can assist your dad in navigating. For example, in your family room, the couch should be darker than the carpet or flooring to stand out more. Consider painting baseboards with a contrasting color to the wall so your dad can distinguish where the wall ends and the floor begins.

In the bathroom area, a white toilet is often difficult to see, so color should be added behind it. Additionally, it is helpful to place a sign on the bathroom door, labeling it with large letters as a bathroom to help with your dad's orientation.

In the dining area, color and contrast can help especially during mealtimes. Try a red or blue plate to add contrast to food. This might help your dad be more confident with eating. Also the red plate can help stimulate his appetite. Consider using colored cups or glasses instead of clear glasses to make a distinction and ones that are textured for easy handling.

Overall, it is best to avoid colors in the blue-violet range as they tend to look all the same.

These adjustments could help your dad get more comfortable in his surroundings. However, you may need to test what works. Sometimes color and contrast do not work with those with Alzheimer's disease.

Also look at the lighting. Try to reduce the amount of glare in a room by using shades or curtains, and close window coverings in the evening and at night. If there are stairs in the home, define them by painting the edges and make sure there are handrails and banisters installed for safety.

There are a number of adaptive devices that can be useful for your dad as his vision and perception declines. For instance, make a notebook with words and pictures to cue daily tasks or to give instructions. Simple, bold pictures that correlate with "wash your hands" or "brush your teeth" can help him understand what to do.

Other adaptive devices like large-print calendars, talking clocks and large-button phones can foster your dad's independence and allow him to continue with activities he enjoys. Audio books are good, too, if your dad struggles to read print.

Your dad's vision and perceptual difficulties can cause him to misinterpret the world around him and can also cause behavioral challenges and safety risks. These modifications can lend greater support for your dad and help him remain in the environment where he is most comfortable.


Questions about Alzheimer's disease or a related disorder can be sent to Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, director of services at Alzheimer's Services of the Capital Area at advice@alzbr.org or visit the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.