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.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio