We have covered the issue of the fear of reflection for people with dementia several times on the blog and detailed how distressing it can be to not recognise your reflection as yourself. The distress usually stems from believing that person to be a stranger but it doesn’t necessarily affect all people with dementia in the same way.
This article by Alan Miles on his blog Care Combine describes how his wife, Lena, who is in the later stages of the condition, takes pleasure from seeing her ‘friend’ in the mirror and will spend a lot of time watching her, pulling faces and laughing at her. This is a heart-warming account of a different response to the same issue but most importantly it illustrates the importance of having choice.
Lena is still being cared for at home but had she been living in a care environment where all the mirrors had been removed (as is usually the advice given) she would never have that experience and that small pleasure would have been denied to her. We’ve always advocated that retaining the choice about whether to have a mirror is really important for those who don’t have an issue recognising their reflection but this example shows that it’s just as important for those who may not recognise it but whose response is amusement or a perception of friendship rather than fear and that’s why products such as our Reversible Mirror are valuable to dementia environments.
Lena’s relationship with her reflection may not always be so amiable but a flexible solution would mean that this could easily be dealt with as and when the time comes.