26th Jun, 2017

Dementia Week - how to make your loved one's home Dementia-friendly

UNFAMILIAR environments can be stressful and daunting for a person living with Dementia, so it can be important to keep a loved one surrounded by their home comforts and in the same routine for as long as possible.

According to Alzheimer’s Society, there are 850,000 people with Dementia in the UK and that number is predicted to grow to over one million by 2025.

With the number of people being diagnosed with Dementia growing yearly, home care is becoming imperative to keeping those with the condition cared for.

Leading care expert Helping Hands Home Care has created a new, interactive, guide on how to make your loved one’s home Dementia friendly so that family members can have peace of mind that their home is safe and secure.

Helping Hands Home Care has been working with people with Dementia and their families for 28 years through a range of hourly visiting and live-in care services focused on allowing people to stay in their own home and live independent lives.

Lindsey Edgehill, Sales and Marketing Director at Helping Hands Home Care, recommends the below ten tips to make a home safe for those living with Dementia:

Living room:

Those living with Dementia struggle to recognise their own surroundings due to confusion, memory loss and difficulty with vision. To create the ideal living space, refrain from using carpets and furnishings with strong patterns as these can disrupt eyesight and keep the room well lit so they are able to see well.

Consider surrounding living spaces with photographs displaying fond memories to evoke a sense of comfort and belonging, to assure your loved one and make them feel at home.

Kitchen/Dining Room:

During mealtimes use bold plates and coloured crockery that contrasts with the food they are going to eat and always lay a table with a tablecloth to make it more recognisable. Colours can be difficult to recognise for those living with Dementia.

Our pictorial memory is stronger than our memory for words. Placing signs on cupboards and doors around the house will help those with Dementia distinguish what they are looking at and what they are looking for.

Label hot and cold taps so that your loved one does not get confused between the two.

Create a memory wall or add images of loved ones and family to the fridge as a reminder of those that care.

Bathroom:

Dementia can affect vision, which makes it difficult to distinguish between objects of the same colour.

With this in mind, if a toilet seat is white, try changing it for a black one. If the floor is a light colour, this might explain why your loved one cannot differentiate between a toilet seat and a cream floor.

Shiny bathroom floors can be confusing for those living with Dementia as they can easily mistake it for water. Consider placing a taped down, non-slip bathmat to the floor so that they can decipher different parts of the room, and if a shiny floor is becoming troublesome, it may be best to remove it.

Cover up mirrors as it can be confusing for those with Dementia as they may not recognise their reflection.

Bedroom:

Leave interior room doors open so that they can see clearly where everything is in each room.

Place a lamp at the side of the bed so it can be easily accessed.

Consider installing an adjustable bed to ensure your loved one doesn’t fall out or struggle to get in.

Garden:

Gardening is a great activity for those with Dementia as it keeps the mind active. Encourage your loved one to try potting plants and weed the garden, but remember to keep any gates closed so they are not tempted to wander.

Lindsey added: “The home should be a safe place for those living with Dementia, but at times it can be disorientating.

“Home care is incredibly beneficial for those with Dementia as it enables them to be cared for in their familiar, comfortable surroundings.

“Applying some of these recommendations for a loved one’s home will not only leave them feeling safe and secure, but it also enables relatives to have peace of mind when they are not around.”

For more information on how to make your home Dementia friendly, check out the Helping Hands Dementia friendly homes tool: www.helpinghandshomecare.co.uk/blog/practical-guide-creating-dementia-friendly-home/