Is talking to mirrors a behavior of moderate Alzheimer's?

Dks??? asked...

Mom talks to herself in the mirror, she has a very hard time with communication, but she talks to the mirror all day and into the night, if I take her out in the car, she will flip the visor mirror down and talk to it. Is this normal for moderate alzheimer patients.

Expert Answer

Brenda Avadian, brings knowledge, hope, and joy to family caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer's and dementia. She cared for her father with Alzheimer's and helps families one-on-one and in groups. She is the author of eight books, including the pioneering memoir "Where's my shoes?" My Father's Walk through Alzheimer's and the Finding the JOY in Alzheimer's series. She presents vivid, compelling, and funny keynotes to both professional and family caregiving audiences.

It's hard to say what normal behavior is when one has Alzheimer's, but my father used to talk to someone in the mirror, too.

He'd stand in front of the full-length mirror of the sliding closet doors and talk with his reflection. Except, he'd get irritated that the person would mimic his every move.

The same thing would happen if he stopped to look at himself in the bathroom mirror above the sink.

However, he never thought to look at himself in the visor.

As Alzheimer's causes more brain cells to die, it takes away our loved ones' judgment and ability to reason that the image in front of them is their reflection.

If your mother's behavior is not bothersome to you and does not cause her frustration, let her talk. If she is unable to communicate unless she sees her reflection in a mirror, then this will help her to keep up her communication skill.

Perhaps you can use this opportunity to ask her questions. Who knows? Seeing her reflection may prompt some recall of the past and answer some questions that are lingering.

Once it becomes a problem you may need to either hang a sheet over the mirror or consider removing it.

When my father grew increasingly irritated at that man in the mirror, my husband removed the doors and installed them with the mirrored side facing into the closet and the back sides facing the bedroom. Although it didn't look as nice, that man in the mirror never mimicked my father again. This also seemed to resolve the issue with the bathroom mirror, which no longer posed a problem.