Disorientation in a new place (e.g. a hospital ward) and inability to remember a route after having been shown and having walked it several times, is a well known feature of senile dementia. These disturbances are a frequent practical cause of difficulty, since such patients are not uncommonly physically fit and active and unless allowed to wander about during some of their waking hours become irritable and unhappy. Yet their supervision and care places a great strain on those responsible for their welfare. If left to themselves they have a tendency to fall downstairs or to wander on to roads which renders them a menace both to themselves and to others. Some insight into the causes of spatial disorientation in the elderly, and ways in which it might to some extent be compensated for, would therefore be of considerable practical assistance. It may not lead to a cure of the defects, any more than a study of the reasons for getting lost in a fog will help to relieve the meteorological conditions. What it may do, however, is to discover the equivalent to senile patients of “cats' eyes” to the motorist, and help to relieve labour and prevent accidents.
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