There are lots of low-cost changes you can make to your home if you or a loved-one is living with Dementia. Below are some general tips for making your home dementia friendly that you will hopefully find useful:
- Use daylight as much as possible, keeping curtains open throughout the day.
- Lighting should match the cycle of natural day to night. This helps circadian rhythm and will help maintain a quality sleep pattern.
- Using contrasting colours can be very 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.
- Maintain a written list of phone numbers beside the phone. And it might be a good idea if necessary to add photos to the numbers so that they are recognisable.
- Keep upholstery and floor patterns simple, with minimal pattern. Avoid clashing colors. On floors, avoid wavy lines, stripes, or changes of color between rooms.
- Use a small notice board for your loved one’s daily routine and to do list.
- Have a dedicated area to store the keys, glasses, post and so on
- 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 for the one with dementia.
- 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
- For ease of identifying, change the toilet seat to a bright colour. Also consider a raised seat, if needed 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.
- Selectively change kitchen cupboard doors to glass, to allow the contents 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
For more tips and information, the UK Alzheimers Society has produced an information booklet that can be viewed here.