Make Your Home Dementia Friendly

Coming to terms with a loved one being diagnosed with dementia can be extremely difficult and hard to accept. As difficult as it may be though, it is important to ensure the person diagnosed is as comfortable as possible. Making a home more dementia friendly for a loved one can make life a little easier at an extremely tough time. There are many simple changes you can make to a home to ensure it is easy to navigate. Below are some tips for making your home dementia friendly:

  • Use daylight as much as possible, keeping curtains open throughout the day, and windows clear from obstruction.
  • Lighting should match the cycle of natural day to night. This helps circadian rhythm and will help maintain a good quality sleep pattern.
  • Using contrasting colours can be helpful.  For example, using a plain white dinner plate over a bright placemat will create higher contrast and help your loved one see the plate and the food.
  • If possible, fit coloured light switches, when contrasted against a plain wall colour this makes it easier to identify the light switch and its purpose.
  • Stick or nail down the edges of rugs or remove them altogether. Remove any cables or wires that are running across the floor.
  • Keep a list of phone numbers beside the phone.  It might also be a good idea to add photos to the numbers so that they are recognisable.
  • Keep upholstery and floor patterns simple, with minimal pattern. Avoid clashing colours. On floors, avoid wavy lines or stripes.
  • Use a small notice board for your loved one’s daily routine and to-do list.
  • Have a dedicated, easily accessible area to store their keys, glasses, post and any other regularly used items.
  • Label the contents of drawers and cupboards using colourful images, or with cards or post-it notes. You can do the same with doors, placing signs at eye level.
  • Leave internal doors to the most commonly used rooms open.
  • In the bathroom, a shiny floor may cause your loved one to think it is wet and then get anxious or move unsteadily. If possible, modify the floor surface to remove the shine, or consider a bathmat to cover the floor as much as possible.
  • For ease of identifying, change the toilet seat to a contrasting colour. Also consider a raised seat for ease and safety.
  • Always have the same towels available and place them prominently in the same place.
  • Use non-slip mats, a shower or bath seat, and install grab bars.
  • In the kitchen, there are some specialised products that can help your loved one remain involved in the cooking process: clamps and holders can help keep jars steady, or a timer to alert the person that something is cooked.
  • If possible, change kitchen cupboard doors to glass, to allow the contents to be visible from the outside.
  • In the bedroom, orient the bed so that the person can see the toilet or the way to the toilet during the night, leaving the bathroom light or night-light on to show the way.

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