(doorway memory loss)

Ever walk into a room with some purpose in mind, only to forget what it was? People with dementia walk into a room and often forget where they are or how they got there.

Interestingly, walking through a doorway can cause memory lapses. Your brain files the thoughts you had in the previous room and prepares a blank slate for the next.

This location-updating effect results in memory decline when people move from one location to another.

Recalling the decision or activity that was made in a different room is difficult because it has been compartmentalized.” Passing through a doorway separates one set of thoughts and memories from the next. This might also apply to when we change environments. People who travel often experience a decline in memory. With each new environment, the brain puts on hold thoughts and awareness from the previous surroundings.

Also, while traveling; we pass through hundreds of actual doorways and new environments. This might be a contributing factor in jet lag.

How often do we change a person with dementia from one room to another never considering the event-boundary effect? Maybe compulsive wandering is because of this. If this is a normal function of a healthy brain imagine how confusing this is for someone with dementia.

They experience a great deal of confusion moving from one place to another, whether moving through the rooms in their home, traveling to a grocery store, or taking a trip. When caring for a person with dementia at home, take a momentary pause before entering a different room, and ask the person to look around. This might help reduce their anxiety and confusion by bringing their awareness to the new environment. Don’t just rush them from place to place.

This is something we could all practice. It’s just a moment to bring ourselves to the present. It’s like a reboot for our brain and we might find it easier to remember why we came into the kitchen in the first place.


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