It was hard not to notice while caring for my parents who had dementia, my father with Alzheimer’s and my mother with vascular dementia that throughout their progression they both insisted on have a bedroom light left on during the night.

In my father’s case, I am not talking about a simple nightlight, but one bright enough to read a pocket-size dictionary. By having the lights on in his room glaring, it was easier for him to calculate his surroundings. After all, for when one who is living with dementia first open their eyes, there is always that chance they may not recognize whose house they are in.

Keep their paths well luminated, especially the trail to the bathroom. I personally used the wall socket lights all over the house, including the hallway. Accidents happen quickly and more often at night.

I also hung family photos along their bedroom’s walls. This was to familiarize and comfort them when they would first awake. Photo albums became a great redirection tool for us. My father would spend hours flipping through the pages; not always remembering the faces from the past, but somehow attaining his solace in times of confusions.

Redecorating their home or simply changing a piece of art hanging on the wall can disorient them severely. I remember one night my father asked me why someone had removed his bed from his room. The only change I had made was clean sheets and a different colored heavy blanket because it was going to get cold that night.

Minor changes that we normally may not even consider, may disrupt the vital routine that a person living with dementia truly needs.

So, keep things simple and well lit. They need their surroundings to remain unchanged.