While my dad’s Alzheimer’s progressed, he insisted on sleeping with a light on in his room. I’m not talking about a faint, simple night light, but one bright enough with which to read a pocket-sized dictionary! Having his room glaringly illuminated made it easier for him to calculate his surroundings. After all, those living with dementia in the latter part of the disease are likely to start their day off not realizing whose house they’re even in.

I hung a variety of old family  8” x 10” photos along the wall beside my father’s bed. This was to familiarize and comfort him when he first opened his eyes. I did the same for my mom, keeping framed photos next to her favorite chair. If your folks are now living in an assisted living or a nursing care facility, let them customize their rooms so they will have familiar surroundings to embrace. My dad spent hours flipping through the pages of old photograph albums, not always remembering the faces from his past but somehow definitely receiving solace during times of confusion.

Even after waking from a catnap in his recliner it became difficult for Dad to get his bearings. Now: imagine finding yourself waking in a hospital setting with dementia; no question, this will swell waves of anxiety and confusion.

If possible, try not to change patients’ surroundings. Redecorating their homes or even changing an art piece on the wall can severely disorient them. I recall an incident where Dad asked me why someone removed the bed from his room. The only change that has been made was that of different colored sheets and pillow cases. Minor changes that would normally seem innocuous can send those living with dementia into heavy states of confusion. It can even bring on hallucinations. So keep things simple and well-lit. The memory-impaired need their familiar surroundings to remain unchanged.

Once again, it is very important that we remember that these folks’ vision may become impaired with dementia-related diseases. We should always keep their home well-lit. It is another centralized way we can keep our loved ones safe.