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Alzheimer's & Dementia
Kitchen & Dining
Living Room - Any Room
Smart Home
Outdoors - Wandering

Agitation & Environmental Misperceptions

Dementia Related Problems

Doesn't recognize own reflection in mirror

Thinks people in photographs or on TV are real

Perceives own reflection in window at night as a stranger

Perceives "spooky" shapes in
Large dark plants
Fabric/floor patterns
Outdoor trees

Calls police when upset

What to Do

When a Person Becomes Agitated

See also: Behavioral and Psychiatric Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease, Alzheimer's Assocation

At some point, the person may no longer recognize their own image or misperceive what's there. For example, he or she may see a stranger and not themselves in the mirror. They may perceive people in photographs as real and refuse to undress or even get upset if the photograph doesn't respond when spoken to. If a violent TV show is on, they may think the event is actually happening right in their room! Or some think their own reflection in a dark window at night is a stranger. And some may see frightening shapes, like a crouching person in a large house plant or a snake in a swirling, patterned fabric or carpet. The person may become so frightened that they call the police.

The good news is that there is a lot you can do to help reduce or even eliminate environmental misperceptions. Hover over What to Do for solutions that have helped other caregivers in similar, difficult situations. And learn simple strategies on how best to relate to the person if they become agitated.

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