01/02/2021 by Kim Stevens 0 Comments
Creating A Dementia-Friendly Environment: A Guide
For those living with dementia, everyday tasks - such as those around the home - can be challenging and, at times, frustrating. As the condition progresses it can become even more difficult to remember, understand, and process the information required to navigate the day-to-day, and this confusion can be compounded and heightened if an older person with dementia has to move out of the home they know and love.
If someone you love is living with dementia, how can you help shape their environment so that they are able to remain in the home they know and love for as long as possible?
Care In Kent have put together these tips for creating a dementia-friendly environment to ensure that your loved one can continue to enjoy their home safely for a long time to come.
It might sound obvious, but if there’s a lot of clutter it can be difficult for someone who is living with dementia to focus on finding the items that they want or need to use. It doesn’t take long for confusion or frustration to set in, or for someone to become distracted from the task at hand.
You can help make life easier for an older person by clearing away any unnecessary items - either by simply helping to tidy up, or by helping to find new storage solutions that will make finding what they want, when they want it, much easier.
Consider Colours And Patterns
Highly patterned decor can be very visually confusing for an older person with dementia, making things harder to see. Clashing patterns can provide too much visual stimulation and can make someone who is already easily confused agitated.
On the other hand, contrasting colours can be helpful for someone with dementia; helping them to easily pick out useful objects. Something as simple as buying crockery in a contrasting colour to the placemats (white on red for example), or painting the toilet door in a contrasting colour to the frame or wall can make a huge difference to the day-to-day life of someone with dementia.
Think About Signs
On ‘bad’ days, or as the symptoms of dementia worsen, an older person might find it difficult to even remember where things are kept in their own home.
Simple one-word signs; ‘FOOD’ on the fridge, or maybe even pictures - a toilet on the bathroom door for example - could be really useful in helping someone with dementia find everything they need within their own home.
Make Sure There Are Photos
Anything that encourages reminiscing and positive memories, such as photos or mementos from the past, will help create a calming and pleasant environment for an elderly loved one.
If they don't already have family photos out, perhaps you can get some put into frames as a gift - pictures of themselves when they were younger, or maybe even pictures of their parents and siblings can evoke particularly pleasant memories and can be comforting to someone who is living with dementia.
Make The Bathroom Dementia-Friendly
The bathroom can be a challenge to navigate for an older person with Alzheimer’s or dementia as there are lots of (often) white shiny surfaces in a relatively small space. But you can help make things easier by adding a colour-contrasting toilet seat or toilet seat cover to make the toilet stand out - possibly a seat that is raised and has arms if an older loved one has mobility issues.
A visible target inside the toilet bowl might be useful for an older man to ensure an easier clean up for carers, and it’s also an idea to clearly label the taps as ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ to minimise accidents and injuries.
Make The Kitchen Dementia-Friendly
Making sure the kitchen is clutter-free, and keeping items that an older person uses regularly visible and within easy reach on the kitchen work surfaces, will prevent someone with dementia from having to constantly open and close cupboard doors and drawers to look for things.
Removing cupboard doors or replacing them with glass ones can make it easier when it comes to locating smaller items like crockery and utensils.
Hiding Some Items
Often, for someone with dementia, out of sight is out of mind, and if your loved one has become fixated on something like feeding or walking a pet for example, just telling them they only need to be fed and walked twice a day might not be enough.
You might have to lock away pet food and leashes when not needed in order to prevent an overfed (or exhausted!) dog, until the time that those things are really needed.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia - the illnesses progress at different rates and the symptoms present themselves differently for everyone - but the evidence is clear that when it comes to managing the conditions, older people do better when they are able to remain in an environment in which they feel safe and comfortable.
If you want to know more about caring for an elderly loved one at home, whether they have dementia or not, please get in touch and speak to a member of our dedicated and professional care team about how we can help.