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How to make your home more dementia friendly

If you're living with dementia, there are some practical things you can do at home to make life easier. If you care for someone with dementia, these changes may reassure you that their home is as comfortable and safe as possible. 

What should I consider before making any changes?

Making simple adjustments around your home can make a real difference, but there are certain things to bear in mind when making changes. 

Not all of the changes will be needed by everyone, and some may not work for everyone, so read through and decide what's suitable for you. Some of the changes may be helpful now, while some may be better in the future. 

Make changes sooner rather than later, because this gives you more time to adjust to the changes. If possible, try not to make too many changes at once. 

You may find you need larger adaptations or specialist equipment. These should be addressed in your care needs assessment. To arrange this, you need to get in touch with your local council. 

About this page

This page takes you around the house, giving you some basic tips on how you can adapt different areas to your changing needs. 

Adapting your stairs and hallways

It can be easy to overlook these areas, but stairs and hallways can cause real issues and increase the risk of a fall. 

Move rugs and mats at the top or bottom of the stairs out of the way as they're a trip hazard and can easily lead to a fall.

Mark the edge of each step with paint or anti-slip tape to help you judge their depth and feel more confident when getting around. Make sure any tape is stuck down well. 

Stick Post-it Notes somewhere at eye level near the front door to remind you to pick up your keys and lock the door when you're leaving the house. If you're worried about going out alone and being unable to find your way back, 'STOP' reminders on the inside of the door at eye level can be helpful. 

Top tip

Keep a list of important contacts by the phone, such as loved ones and anyone else you think may be useful. You can get phones that can be pre-programmed with important numbers and dial at the press of a button.

Adapting your living room

Everyone wants to feel comfortable and safe in their living room. Making some small changes can help to keep it a relaxed and reassuring place. 

Remove trip hazards like trailing wires, clutter and rugs. Also, try and avoid using glass furniture as it can be harder to see and could cause you to trip. 

Display photos of loved ones, special occasions and happy memories because they can be comforting and help trigger memories. You might want to label photos with names and relationships to help you remember exactly who's who. 

Listening to music or the radio can have a calming effect, and may remind you of your favourite songs and tunes. 

Top tip

When decorating your home you might want to avoid using materials with busy patterns as they can be visually confusing. It's also a good idea to keep floor tones similar between rooms so that you can move around more freely.

Adapting your kitchen

Navigating the kitchen can be tricky at the best of times, but some small changes can make things a lot easier. 

Label cupboards and drawers to make it easier to locate what you want. This is particularly helpful with everyday items, like tea and sugar or salt and pepper. Sticking photographs of the contents on each door or drawer can also be helpful to remind you what's inside.

Fit an automatic shut-off mechanism on the cooker to avoid accidentally leaving the cooker on after using it. Some newer cookers already have these mechanisms built in. If you think you might leave the gas hob on, it's a good idea to fit a gas detector. 

Keep items stored away safely because clutter can be visually confusing and can sometimes cause trips or falls. It's also a good idea to label cleaning products and keep them all in the same place, to avoid any confusion. Likewise, make sure to store pet food separately from your food products.

Be careful when using stainless steel appliances, like kettles or toasters, as they can get very hot and cause burns. You might want to think about buying safer kitchen appliances, like plastic kettles so that you can avoid using stainless steel appliances altogether.

Use contrasting tones for cups and plates to make it easier to identify food and drink. For example, mashed potato on a white plate can be tricky to see – a contrasting plate would make the potato more noticeable.

Top tip

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed in the kitchen and all sleeping areas. Some alarms trigger an alert to a call centre or a nominated person, such as a carer. It's important to check that alarms are working regularly – ideally twice a year.

Adapting your bedroom

Adapting the bedroom doesn't necessarily mean buying expensive equipment – there are some small, simple changes that can make a real difference. 

Install a night light or a motion-activated light near your bed, so that you can see where you're going if you often get up during the night.

Try not to keep too many clothes, shoes or cosmetics on shelves and in wardrobes – too much choice can be overwhelming and make decisions difficult. You might also find it helpful to lay out clothes in the order you put them on, with underwear first. 

Use bedding that contrasts in colour with the floor so that the bed is easier to see. But avoid busy patterns, because these can be visually confusing. 

Fit pressure mats under the mattress or beside the bed. These detect if you get up and don't return to bed within a certain time, which alerts an emergency response centre or a chosen contact, such as your neighbour or carer. 

Top tip

To let in as much natural light as possible, fully open your curtains during the day, make sure your windows are clean and remove any window dressings or plants that block light. It's really important that where you live is lit properly.

Adapting your bathroom

Bathrooms are spaces that are used a lot, so it's important that they're safe and easy to get to. 

Paint the bathroom door a bright colour, stick a sign on the door or leave the door open so the room can be seen and accessed easily. 

Install a different coloured toilet seat and lid to make it easier to see. Some people find it easier to use the toilet if the seat’s left up or taken off altogether.

Think about fitting your bath and sink with flood-prevention plugs. These let water out automatically when baths or sinks become too full. Some of them also change colour when the water gets too hot so you know to be careful.

Keep medicines stored away safely, out of reach. Put medicines that you need regularly in an automated pill box. Make sure any out-of-date or unwanted medications are disposed of – this can be arranged with your local chemist. 

Think about changing taps to separate hot and cold taps that are labelled well to avoid confusion.

Consider bigger adaptations such as grab rails and shower stools to help you use the bathroom safely. These adaptations may be more expensive but could help you stay independent for as long as possible. 

Top tip

Consider the type of clocks you have in your home – buying dementia-friendly clocks can make a real difference. For example, some people like clocks with large numerals or clocks that show the date as well as the time.

What if I'm a friend, family member or carer of someone with dementia?

As a friend, family member or carer of someone living with dementia, you may be wondering how you can help. Dementia can make it difficult for people to do practical things, because of difficulties with memory and processing information. Little changes around their home can be a real help, but it's important to consider certain things when making changes.

Involve the person living with dementia as much as possible. Depending on the extent of their condition, try to work as a team and find solutions together. It's important that, where possible, friends and families support the person to do things for themselves rather than doing it for them. Make sure you take their likes and dislikes into account when changing things.

Don't make unnecessary changes. Routine and familiarity can be a real comfort, especially for people with dementia. Some things may have to be changed, but try to keep things the same where you can.

Focus on one or two things at a time. Conversations about lots of different changes can be overwhelming – focusing on one or two at a time can make the process a little easier, especially for the person with dementia.

Seek further advice about making changes. You could consult an occupational therapist or arrange a care needs assessment with your local council. There are also many support organisations for people with dementia.

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We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local Age UKs.

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Last updated: Apr 08 2024

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