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Disorientation to Place | Common Signs

  • Gets lost when driving or walking in unfamiliar areas
  • Gets lost when driving or walking in familiar areas
  • Does not remember or cannot give directions to familiar places
  • Does not recognize familiar landmarks or routes
  • Has difficulty finding their way around in stores, malls or parking lots (e.g. cannot find the canned goods aisle, checkout, etc.)
  • Gets mixed up or lost trying to find rooms in familiar homes or buildings
  • Does not remember the proper location of items in their home (e.g. looks for teacups in the bedroom)
  • Does not recognize current dwelling as home (e.g. asks to go home, packs to go home). This can also be an example of a delusion
Disorientation to Place | General Description

To be oriented is to know the year, date and time of day, as well as where you are. Even though we take it for granted, it is a complex ability because it requires a large number of brain processes which must work together. Unfortunately, many of these processes are affected by Alzheimer's disease . Orientation also involves being able to tell where objects are in your environment and being able to compare objects or spaces to one another. If they cannot do this, the person you care for may no longer be able to find their way from one room to another in their own house. Also, they may not know which room is behind a commonly used door. Even in a very familiar setting such as their home, the person you care for may be unable to find objects which they use frequently. They also may not be able to identify the source of sounds they hear daily, such as the phone ringing or a doorbell. At earlier stages of the disease, the person you care for may be able to orient themselves in a more familiar setting, but they may become disoriented when they leave their home. This could cause them to get lost while driving or when trying to enter buildings such as a church or mall. It might be possible for the person you care for to maintain their orientation in certain places or circumstances, especially if the person travels the same route every day. However, when out of this comfort zone, they may become lost and unable to orient themselves.

Sometimes, people with Frontotemporal dementia can retain orientation and often can negotiate and locate their surroundings accurately. In Lewy body dementia, and in some types of vascular dementia, problems with disorientation to place - and getting lost - can be more severe than in Alzheimer's disease.

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See Also:
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Disorientation to Time
Symptom Library > Everyday Activities > Driving
Symptom Library > Thinking & Judgment > Unsafe Actions
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Wandering
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Last updated January 9, 2019
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