Coping with feelings of disorientation

My husband suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and as the disease progressed, I became aware that he was gradually feeling more and more disorientated. Even at home he was not always sure how to get from room to room, especially when he was tired. When he was still able to go upstairs and get ready for bed unaided, he would get up from his chair and walk in the opposite direction to the door or ask me how to find the bedroom. At first I put this down to the fact that, not having been married long, we had moved into a new house together and the layout of his old home was obviously more deeply imprinted on his mind.

Away from home or at night, this problem became more serious. Sometimes during the night I would be aware of him coming round to my side of the bed and trying to push the wall. He was looking for the bathroom and had already walked straight past the bedroom door.  Plug lights seemed the obvious answer but we did not have a socket in an appropriate place. I solved this by buying a motion-sensitive light with a wide angle and a magnetic backing which I fixed to a metal wastepaper bin. As he didn’t shut the bathroom door at night, the wide angle of the light meant that it stayed on while he walked from the bedroom and continued into the bathroom, relighting on his way back.

When going on holiday I of course did not know what the situation would be. Staying in a self-catered cottage, he couldn’t find the bathroom in the night and, to his alarm, thought he had walked through into the next cottage. In one hotel, we had twin beds. Bill’s bed was about a foot away from the wet room so I left the shaver light on all night and set the door slightly ajar so that he could see it. Even that didn’t work and I woke up to find him sitting on my feet, desperate for the loo.

Eventually I went back to the idea of the motion-sensitive lights but this time I bought three flat-backed ones with a directional beam.  Before going to bed, I set them out on the carpet, making a path to the bathroom. It didn’t work in all circumstances, but it certainly helped.