10 Solutions for Challenging Behavior Caused by Mirrors and Dementia

mirrors and dementia

Mirrors can terrify seniors with dementia

Something you might not realize is that mirrors can be very disturbing for some older adults with dementia. This might sound strange, but when seniors see reflections in mirrors, they can become anxious, angry, or even hysterically terrified.

If your senior starts acting irrationally, look around the room to see if a mirror could be the cause. Any reflective surface can cause this problem. For example, an uncovered window at night reflects the inside of the room because the inside of the house is bright and it’s dark outside.


Why are mirrors and dementia a bad combination?

Experts think that older adults with dementia fear mirrors because they don’t understand that they’re seeing a reflected image of themselves. They don’t recognize the person they see and think that a stranger has appeared in their home.

Suddenly seeing an intruder can make them so confused and upset that they react completely irrationally. They might resist your attempts to calm them or explain that they’re safe.

This fear of mirrors could also be a reason that some older adults with dementia refuse to bathe or are always agitated in the bathroom. They might be afraid because “that stranger” is always present for these personal activities.


10 solutions to eliminate fear of mirrors caused by dementia

We put together 10 creative ideas for covering mirrors and eliminating the sources of your senior’s fear and anxiety.

10 ways to prevent fear of mirrors in seniors with dementia:

  1. Remove any unnecessary mirrors, like those in their room, and any decorative mirrors around the house.
  2. Draw all window drapes before the sun sets.
  3. Turn full-length standing mirrors around to face the wall and only turn them right-side out when you need to use them. Keep the turned-around mirror behind an open door to make it even less noticeable.
  4. Drape a towel or large piece of cloth over hanging mirrors.
  5. Attach adhesive pleated fabric shades (like these) at the top of a mirror.
  6. Cover the mirror with a poster – soothing nature scenes like these are nice.
  7. Transform the mirror into pretty stained glass art with special adhesive window film – these flowers are lovely.
  8. Remove or cover up mirrored medicine cabinet doors. Make sure to remove any medications or sharp objects if the door is removed.
  9. Cover large mirrors (like closet doors) with self-adhesive contact paper in a soothing color and minimal pattern. Try simple designs like white wood panels, light maple wood, or plain light blue.
  10. Install a curtain rod (like this one) above the mirror and hang curtains to cover the mirror like it’s a window. Open the drapes anytime you need to use the mirror. These sheer curtains are nice and light.


You might also like:
3 Ways to Respond When Someone with Alzheimer’s Says I Want to Go Home
7 Tips to Get Someone with Alzheimer’s to Take a Bath
Why Experts Recommend Lying to Someone with Dementia


By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Griswold Home Care

Be first to comment