“Minimizing the degree of perceptual interference improved patients’ object perception,” said researcher Rachel Newsome in this recent PsychCentral.com news article on a Georgia Tech and University of Toronto study on Alzheimer’s.
In other words, clear the clutter.
Caregivers for persons in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia should consider applying the principles of this research to help their loved ones better “perform everyday activities.”
It’s not just about cleaning up and getting rid of useless items — though that’s never a bad idea — but more about simplifying the objects in front of the person at any given time. For example, the article mentions using a telephone with “varying sized buttons and different colors” since buttons tend to be the same size and color, making it difficult to distinguish the numbers. This difficulty in distinguishing objects that are only slightly different in terms of visual appearance explains why those with Alzheimer’s often cannot recognize loved ones, according to the study. As Morgan Barense, Ph.D., says, “Alzheimer’s patients may have trouble recognizing a loved one’s face, not only because they can’t remember it, but also because they aren’t able to correctly perceive its distinct combination of features to begin with.”
Operating on this foundation, simplifying the objects on the table at meal time, and using plates, bowls and silverware of varying colors and sizes, is another way to reduce visual clutter and thereby help the individual more clearly recall the purpose and function of each item.
Check out more Alzheimer’s care tips here.