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No longer able to recognise yourself in dementia

Posted on Mon 28th Jan, 2019 in: Dementia DesignDementia Friendly EnvironmentsDementia Friendly ProductsFear Of Reflection In Dementia

Fear of reflection


When your mum thinks you’re someone they went to school with, how can we expect them to recognise themselves?


There is a video doing the rounds on social media that shows a son filming his mother, who is living with dementia, during a trip out to a restaurant. He is shown asking her who she thinks his mum is and who she thinks he is. She can’t answer the questions and takes a guess that he is her friend. When he then asks how they met she ventures that he’s someone she went to school with.


Being unable to recognise their own family and friends is very common in the later stages of dementia. What is really interesting about this lady’s assumption that her son may be someone that she knew from school is that she perceived him to be her contemporary: she understood him to be around the same age that she thought that she was.


This is a very effective illustration of why people with dementia often don’t recognise their own reflection and can even become afraid of it. It’s not that they don’t know what they look like, the issue is that if they self-identify as someone much younger, as the lady in the video does, there would be no reason to think the ‘old person’ in the mirror is them. If it’s not them, it must be somebody else and that’s what’s frightening: a stranger in their room.


That’s why we developed the reversible mirror, to give dementia environments the option of easily swapping the mirror in a bedroom or bathroom for a dementia friendly picture. It takes away the potential distress of someone who is frightened by reflections but allows those who want a mirror to have one.


If you would like to discuss how you could use reversible mirrors in your dementia environment call us on 01274 728831 or send us a message.


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