Posterior cortical atrophy support

Strategies and assistive technology

This page has information about strategies and assistive technology that may be of help to people with posterior cortical atrophy (PCA). You may also be interested in our list of organisations that provide information and support.

Medications available to treat patients with typical Alzheimer’s disease may be helpful to some people with PCA, however these are designed to treat the symptoms of the disease and are not a cure. There is therefore a need for strategies that may help to cope with visual impairment. Here we’ve tried to put together some relevant advice from a number of sources, primarily the Alzheimer’s Society, RNIB and Thomas Pocklington Trust. It is quite general advice for people with visual loss or Alzheimer’s disease, so you may or may not find that it works for you.

The Alzheimer’s Society have produced a factsheet about vision and Alzheimer’s disease. Visuoperceptual difficulties in dementia (factsheet 527) outlines potential perceptual problems and gives some environmental adaptations and tips for minimising visuoperceptual problems.

There are articles that have been published in the Alzheimer’s Society Living with Dementia magazine that relate to PCA. One, entitled “Dementia and Sight Loss”, includes accounts of personal experience of someone with PCA and sources of advice. It is on pages 16-17 of the August 2010 edition. Another, an article about caring for someone with PCA, can be found in the December 2010 edition (pages 12-13).

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Although written for people with many different sorts of visual problems, the RNIB’s “Living with sight loss” pages may have some strategies that could help. There are suggestions about using colour contrast to make important objects, for example door handles or handrails, stand out. There is also advice about good lighting, which could help lessen some of the visual symptoms. Reducing shadows, using non-shiny flooring and reducing glare and minimising obstacles may help. You may also want to read the booklet entitled “Improve the lighting in your home” produced by the RNIB and Thomas Pocklington Trust. More advice about lighting and design can be found at the Pocklington Trust website.

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Assistive technology

There are a variety of devices designed for people with sight loss that may be helpful to people with PCA. Examples include telephones with large clear buttons, talking clocks and reading machines. There’s plenty of information on the RNIB website about using computers, telephones and other access technology. Their reading and writing pages also have details of talking books, newspapers and other reading aids such as typoscopes. Intuitively, making text larger through magnification or large-print books makes it easier to read. Whilst this is true for some people with PCA, others find that smaller text is easier to read than large text (Crutch et al. 2010).

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