I recently found an interesting article about using sensory cues to figure out what’s going on with someone who has dementia. Although this “clinical pearl” from Teepa Snow is intended for professional caregivers, the information is equally valid for family caregivers. Here’s why it matters that we learn to observe and interpret these cues:

If we truly understand [that everything changes for someone who has dementia in terms of their abilities for visual and auditory processing and comprehension, as well as the sense of touch, smell and taste] and are willing to observe their abilities and stretch ourselves by looking at what’s happening through the lens of curiosity, we can further understand and choose to support and care for others in ways that make more sense.

For instance, knowing that brain changes due to dementia can change the scope of someone’s visual perception allows you to make some inferences about what’s going on based on where they’re looking. It also allows you to understand that they may not be able to see you if you sit next to them, so you can instead sit directly in front of them to create a better opportunity to engagement. That makes you a much better caregiver.

Read this short article to get a good grounding of how you can interpret and work with changed sensory cues.