Mirrors and Dementia

What to Do When Mirrors Upset Someone With Dementia

Changes in perception mean that mirrors can upset someone with dementia. He or she may believe reflections are actual people. A moving image spotted across a room may look like an intruder. Even one's own reflection may go unrecognized and be perceived as someone else, a common source of embarrassment or agitation at bath time. (Often caregivers are puzzled for weeks about what causes an upset reaction in certain circumstances, only to finally discover it was a simple reflection.) On the other hand, some people befriend their reflection and talk to it!

What can you do about mirrors if they're a problem?

  • Simply remove them from all rooms in the house. Keep handheld mirrors in drawers for your personal use.

  • Drape a large cloth or towel over the mirror in the bathroom as needed.

  • Remove the door on a mirrored medicine cabinet and just leave open shelving. Be sure to remove any medications that might be taken accidentally.

    SEE ALSO: Find Memory Care Near You


11 months ago, said...

I have to put my mom in the care center,,,its a very good place I live in a very small town and our little hospital has a very small cozy ,well run care center ,,, as she is almost 90 and almost totally incontinent ,, very far into dementia ,,I have no choise as my husband and I both have to work I know she will be cared for ..its right across the street where I live ,,they have pet therapy ,,and actually want visitors to come see the guests who live there ,, its very clean ,,I just feel guilty ,hoping she wont feel abandoned I will still see her everyday on my way home from work ,,and she will have people to visit with in the center ,some of her friends are there.. I just dont know how to tell her ,she sees the admitting Dr. tomorrow.. any ideas on how to handle this would be appreciated so much thank you ...


over 2 years ago, said...

We are not dealing with this as far ad I know, but my loved one gets upset at bath just being mentioned. Last week she actually shook as we progressed to the bathroom. Any thoughts on this reaction to a bath?


over 3 years ago, said...

This is GREAT information!! Thank you,


almost 4 years ago, said...

Coping in Canada - try putting up a curtain rod over it, with non-see-through drapes or material that you've put a simple hem in. If you make it in colors that go with the bathroom, when it's 'open' it's like having a window in there. When it's closed, the privacy is greater.


over 4 years ago, said...

Found Mama washing her face the other morning. Only problem, the face was the one in the mirror! She's still "with it" enough to recognize what happened and was embarrassed. We turned it into a joke. Funny, but also soooo sad. She's having difficulty differentiating between reflections on the glass of the security/storm door and "people out there looking in". Hides stuff to keep it safe, then cannot find them. However, she is still sweet and cooperative (mostly). Getting more stressful. She has poor vision, very poor hearing (even with VERY expensive hearing aids) and she's just becoming less and less herself. She now calls me her Mama. She knows, but since I do most of the caregving, cooking, cleaning and decision making she says I may as well be her Mama. Sorry to rattle on. I'm not one for asking for help and for talking a lot about my problems. Never thought I would use this blog. Now, so glad it's here. We were s


almost 5 years ago, said...

Thank you for the mirror tip, I also have found lately that handing the phone to Margaret, ( when calling a relative ) sometimes brings back the worst of memories and my better half then spends the day being awkward and seeing the gremlins again, I have left messages and emails to these relatives that Margaret will no longer be able to accept or respond to their calls,,,so I am now the jerk,,,However, since I have to do the caring, it is my decision ..Even my sons have been warned to quickly talk about good memories and not dig up the negative ones. Bless you all ....PINK GIN


almost 5 years ago, said...

It alerted me to a problem which I may occur to my wife in the future.


almost 5 years ago, said...

There were some good ideas on how to handle tihs behavior. My mom usually has conversations with the mirror. I have tried getting her to look at the "beautiful" woman she is talking to, hoping that she will see a pretty woman. Sometimes it works.


about 5 years ago, said...

We don't have problems right now but our bathroom has a HUGE wall mirror like so many bathrooms do and I would find it quite difficult to cover that up - not sure what i could do.


over 5 years ago, said...

My Dad talks to 'himself' all the time in the bathroom. We could never figure out who he thought he was talking to - we thought he had an imaginary friend or was just lonely. This could certainly explain it!!