vicki10 Asked September 2010

My 78-year-old dad with dementia hears people talking to him from the bathroom mirror. Has anyone else heard of this symptom?

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EXPERT Carol Bradley Bursack Sep 2010
People with Alzheimer's often get so they don't recognize the "person" who is in the mirror. They no longer know what they look like and think the image is a stranger. The fact that this "person" talks to him is unusual, but may not be too strange, since he may be talking to the person (his image) and see moving lips so assume the person is talking to him.

That's just my take, and you may want to check with the doctor on this. I wouldn't be unduly alarmed, however.

Carol
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As my Dad's Alzheimer's progressed, he did talk to his image in the mirror. It was very startling for me at first, but was just another symptom of a most horrific disease. We would roll him up to the mirror to wash his hands, and he would sit there smiling, talking to, and sometimes waving at the face looking back at him. You could tell that he thought it was someone else. ... As the other response states, I, too, would imagine that he probably thought the person in the mirror was talking to him - just as a wee baby looks in the mirror and reacts. ... God bless you on this journey with your Dad.
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donahueg Sep 2010
If it is a sudden symptom and accompanied by other symptoms like anger and agitation. He may be suffering from a bladder infection. But if its an ongoing problem and been happening for a while, then just chalk it up to another twist of the Alzheimer's disease. Look at sites like this one or http://easycaregiving.com/DementiaAssessment for more ideas and solutions.
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Alwoods Sep 2010
As long as the exchange was pleasant, look at it as a form of social interaction. My Mom has Alzheimer's and there are a lot of strange things she does and says. As long as she's safe and happy, I don't think it hurts. If I asked her about it, she will have no idea she had chatted with the mirror. She chats with the news people on TV too. Be happy for the smiles.
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hapfra Sep 2010
Vicki---From what I have learned from the Alzheimers Association-who deal in all types of dementia, it is best to remove all mirrors if possible. As prevously mentioned the person in the mirror, your Dad, is but his reflection - and he may not even be recognize this -or even become frightened by what he sees. (as people with dementia are NOT in our world-cognitively) I had all the mirrors removed when my Mom was in a facility for this reason, and you may want to look into this matter as well. In my experiences, there cerainly were strange behaviors that evolved, and this is just one of them.
Best to you on your caregiving journey, and I for one would be interested on how you resolve this problem-you can send me a reply on my wall if you wish.
Hap
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patrica61 Sep 2010
This is a great net work program. I am sorry I did not know about sonner than I did. I received so much support from every one. Carol was a god send to me and the stories were just like I was going through. I wish you all well, I lost my mom last Oct 5, 2009 due to her little body failing.. The alztimers/demenita was not caught in time by the doctor, I knew something was wrong, it took two years for him to liste, I moved mom with me by did put her near by in a neighborhood assising living of which I did vounteer work and sleep overs with mom. I was there a lot and was there at the end. She is at peace now, it is a terrible illness for both. My mom knew me but no one else. everyone keep on the web site it did help me out.
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have a variation of that. Using video chat. The image she sees moves in the opposite direction than it does in mirror reflection. She really loved that person on the screen. Waved and threw kisses...

Some people cover all mirrors if things get out of hand.
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prashworth Sep 2010
I am sure it is possible for this to happen. Has your mom passed away, or does he say who he is talking to? He may not realize he is seeing himself in the mirror, and he may think he is talking to someone else. Also, not to be mean or invasive, does he have depression? Severe depression can lead to hearing voices that are not there. If you haven't asked his doctor about this, you may consider.
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LME Sep 2010
If, after covering or removing the mirror, and he still sees or hears people, it may be the dementia, or it may be side effects or interactions from medications, too many anesthesias from surgery, or, as suggested earlier, a bladder infection, or UTI. Let his doctor know if it continues.
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patrica61 Sep 2010
Yes I have heard about the mirror. Your dad may have dementia, but take him to the doctor they can run some test. And maybe give some medicine. Somepeople do not know everything that can happen with this terrible illness. You are there seeing it all not them. People who have alzteiemers/dementia do still have memories maybe he is looking and talking into the mirror remembering something from the past. Places pitures or play soft music. try annd play a simple game/color. i helped out in the assisting living my mom was at and I did see how so many enjoy such simple things. Just you being there and maybe rent a old movie and talk. drap a cloth over the mirror, see if he question that. Also call your elder care. i took care of mom for almost 10 years, I know the good days and the bad days. Take care.
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