What's Happening in the Brain
Orientation is a complex brain process, so it is no surprise that it gets disrupted in Alzheimer's disease . We take our familiar routines and environments for granted. How we recognize them as familiar is complicated. Our brains do not record all the information in our routines - rather they filter important pieces and then rely on pre-existing information for the rest. For example, as you read this, you probably are in a room that is familiar to you. Your brain is scanning your surroundings to detect anything new in that environment. But at any one time, your brain relies only to a small extent on what is actually there. When we are in a familiar place doing a familiar thing - like going out for a weekly group breakfast- this constant activity of scanning and checking is effortless. But think of how hard it is to do something in a busy new surrounding - such as in an airport or a hospital. This gives you some sense of how much effort it can take a person with dementia to know that it is "Friday morning breakfast club" and what their normal routine is.