A dementia-friendly home
There are plenty of things you can do around your home to make life easier. Simple changes can make a big difference and they don't have the break the bank.
Things to consider before making changes
Making some simple changes 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, so read through and decided what's suitable for you. Some of the changes will be helpful now, while some may be helpful in the future.
Don't leave it too late to make changes. Give yourself time to adjust to changes and, if possible, try not to make too many changes at once.
Things you can do around the house
There are plenty of things that can be done throughout the home to stay independent as long as possible.
- let in as much natural light as possible
- keep a list of important contacts by the phone
- leave clearly written notes and reminders in prominent places
- use clocks that display the time, date and day of the week
- install and regularly check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
- mark hot appliances, such as radiators
- avoid patterned curtains and carpets where possible
- try and use similar tones on the floors throughout
- think about colour coding keys and locks
- remove clutter where possible
In the living room
Your living room should be a comfortable space where you can relax. Making some small changes can make sure this doesn't have to change when living with dementia.
Remove trip hazards like trailing wires, clutter and worn rugs. Also, try and avoid glass furniture as it can be harder to see and may cause a stumble.
Display photos of loved ones or happy memories. It may be helpful to label photos with names and relationships.
Try listening to music and the radio rather than watching television. It can be a welcomed change and bring back memories. You may struggle with storylines on television and find the radio easier to follow.
In the kitchen
There are things that can be done to stay independent in the kitchen.
Labelling cupboards and drawers can help you stay as independent as possible and can be particularly helpful with items that are used often.
Fit an automatic shut-off mechanism on the cooker to avoid accidentally leaving the cooker on after using it. Newer cookers have these mechanism built in. A gas detector can be fitted if leaving the gas hob on is the problem.
Store items away safely, helping to minimise clutter. It can also avoid confusion. Harmful substances such as cleaning products should be stored away, remove artificial fruits and store pet food in a separate cupboard.
Avoid scalds and burns by trying not to use stainless steel appliances such as toasters and kettles, as they get very hot.
A drain tap in the kitchen sink may help catch any items that are dropped down the sink accidentally, such as teaspoons.
In the bedroom
Simple measures can be taken to keep the bedroom a safe place and it doesn't necessarily mean buying expensive equipment.
Install a night light near the bed to make sure if you wake up in the night you can see where you're going. You can install a motion-activated light that comes on as needed.
Make it easier to get dressed by not keeping all clothes, shoes and cosmetics on shelves and in wardrobes. Too much choice can be overwhelming and make decisions difficult. Laying out clothes in the order you put them on can help make the process easier.
Try bedclothes and linens that contrast in colour to the rest of the room so the bed is easier to see, especially if the bed is placed in the middle of the room.
Pressure sensors in or beside the bed can detect someone getting out of bed and not returning within a certain time. An alert can be sent directly to an emergency response or chosen contact, such as your neighbour or carer.
In the bathroom
There are several things you can do to make the bathroom safer.
A flood prevention plug will let water out of the bath automatically when it becomes too full. Some of them also change colour when the water gets too hot.
Contrasting tones can be extremely helpful in the bathroom. Towels, grab rails, soap and even a toilet seat in a different colour to the surface can help you recognise them.
Keep medicines stored away safely. Make sure any out-of-date or unwanted medications are disposed of - this can be arranged with your local chemist.
Make sure taps are easy to use as some modern mixer taps can be confusing. Traditional, separate hot and cold taps can make things much easier.
Consider bigger adaptions to the bathrooms such as a walk-in shower or getting a bath seat installed. These adaptions may be more expensive but could prove very beneficial to remaining independent and living well with dementia.
Making changes for someone with dementia
As a carer, friend or family member of someone living with dementia, you may be wondering how you can help. Making changes around their home can be a real help, but make sure you consider certain things when making changes.
Involve the person living with dementia with decisions as much as possible. Try and find solutions together, helping them do what they enjoy rather than restricting what they already do. Also take their preferences into account, such as colour and style.
- Don't make unnecessary changes as routine and familiarity can be a comfort. Some things may need changing, but where you can keep things the same.
- Seek further advice about making changes. You could consult an occupational therapist or arrange an assessment with your local social services, your GP or privately. There are also many support organisations for people with dementia.
Our page Caring for someone with dementia has lots more useful information.
For more information call Age UK on 0800 055 6112