Making Your Home Dementia Friendly
For someone with dementia, living at home can help them to maintain a certain level of independence, whilst also offering a level of comfort a care home doesn’t.
By making some minor changes to the home you can create a safer space, whilst still maintaining a physically active and mentally stimulating environment
In this article, we are going to be talking about how you can adapt your property to assist people with dementia who want to remain living at home and for friends and family members who are supporting them.
Adequate lighting not only makes sense in terms of being able to see properly, but it can also aid in keeping track of time and understanding where you are in your home. Allowing natural light to shine through windows helps the person living with dementia to more clearly see the difference between night and day. Better lighting eliminates dark areas and shadows too, which can be a big trip hazard. Dimmer switches and motion sensor lights are also a great way to control the level of light to suit personal preference.
- Remove obstructive blinds or shutters in favour of more lightweight curtains, allowing as much natural light to shine through as possible
- Ensure windows are clean
- Motion sense lights can be used for when someone gets up in the night
- Ensure bedrooms can be made as dark as is possible/safe, as this encourages better sleep
- Use brighter bulbs in lamps if it is safe to do so
- Consider relocating plug sockets for easier access
Many dementia patients report feelings of disorientation and confusion with vision. The colours and shapes of furniture can help the person with dementia to navigate their home more easily.
Strong patterns such as florals and stripes can be confusing, so opting for simpler, blockier designs in bright and contrasting colours can make items of furniture much easier to see and navigate around. If you decide to replace or remove any furniture then try to maintain the original layout of the room, as it is easier to navigate through surroundings when they are familiar with the layout.
- Supportive chairs with arms are much easier to get in/ out of
- Try not to change the layout too often
- If the furniture is heavily patterned think about replacing or covering it with a blanket
- Opt for furniture in a contrasting colour to the floor so that they can easily be identified
For a person living with dementia, being able to walk freely around is a massive part of their independence. Ensuring that there are no wonky floorboards or untucked carpets allows individuals to walk more confidently around the home without risking a trip or fall.
It’s also important to consider the options carefully when choosing carpet and rug patterns, as dementia can alter how they see things to a greater extent. Shiny floors can look wet, speckles or tiles can look like rubbish on the floor, and dark coloured flooring can look like holes which they will then try to avoid walking on.
This is something to take into consideration, especially on the stairs. Ensuring the steps have a colour contrast to the walls can also help to avoid accidents.
- Remove mats to avoid trips
- Mark edges of stairs and steps with bright tape or especially designed stair edging called ‘nosing’
- Ensure all lamp wires and cables are tucked away and won’t be a trip hazard
There are also many safety features you can install in the bathroom to limit hazards. For example, prevention plugs that release water down the drain if a bath is left running for too long and temperature checking alarms that will notify you if the water is too hot.
Another good idea is installing assistance rails next to the bath and toilet in contrasting easily identifiable colours, as well as contrasting toilet seats. These products can help individuals use the bathroom as independently as possible.
- Try to avoid distracting clutter, keep the space clean and simple
- Use towels and toilet rolls in contrasting colours for easy access
- Place non-slip mats in spots they’re likely to walk over
- Ensure locks can be easily opened from the outside in case of an emergency
Ensuring your home is organised is essential for those living with dementia to feel at ease. Clutter can lead to confusion and distraction. It is also important that items are put back where they belong so that patients can find their belongings.
- Put labels on cupboards, wardrobes and drawers for easy identifiable access
- Keep important items such as wallet, keys and glasses in a clear plastic box
- Ensure that someone knows where all the important items or documents are kept in case of emergencies
- Leave bathroom and kitchen doors open when not in use so they are easily located