The best way to turn your home into a dementia friendly space
When faced with a medical diagnosis of dementia, one of the most immediate concerns people have is that confusion and memory loss will prevent them from being able to continue living safely in their own home. Yet, with the right support, and some standard design and lay-out alterations, much can be done to transform the physical area in the house into an environment that is both security aware AND fosters freedom.
Where to begin?
Knowing where to begin is most likely the hardest part. When examining your home, the 2 key areas to address are:
Remove possible danger : What hazards exist that can easily be eliminated?
Improve the space : What adjustments can be made that will promote independence?
Using research performed by the University of Stirling, and the nationwide housing charity, Care & Repair England, we’ve gathered together some useful tips for thinking about possible changes. We’ve organized them under 3 headings to help get you started:
General design and design.
Lighting and heating.
Safety and security.
Take a look at each room in turn and don’t get overwhelmed – remember even 1 or 2 little adjustments can have a considerable impact.
The Design and Layout of your house:
- Think about the layout of each room. Simply removing clutter and unneeded furnishings can make route-ways to and from the door, or through the space, more easily recognisable, and ensure movement is much easier and more secure.
- Mirrors can cause confusion, particularly as the dementia progresses, so covering or moving them may assist.
- Closed doors, particularly in a confined area such as a hallway or landing, could be disorientating. Why not remove them to create a more open-plan design? This can reduce confusion and distress.
- Use of contrasting colours can assist with navigating your way around the house and remembering what things are meant to be used for. For instance, dark colored bed linen against cream walls and carpeting will truly stand apart, as would a dark colored toilet seat or handrail against a white restroom suite. Plain colors work much better than patterns and you can utilize this idea to highlight any things you want noticed easily … light switches, cutlery on the table, door handles and so on…
- Rearranging chairs to make it possible to watch out of the window or enjoy what other people in your home are doing, can help maintain social contact and increase motivation.
- Put away infrequently used items and try to keep cabinets and surfaces uncluttered so that the vital objects are much easier to find.
- Utilizing transparent containers, glass fronted doors or open shelves will make things easier than having to remember where something is behind a shut cupboard door.
Lighting and Heating:
- Shadows and dark corners can increase the occurrence of hallucinations so ensure good lighting (whether natural and electrical) without excessive brightness or shadow.
- Cookers and fires can become potential fire threats as the dementia progresses. All fires need to be fitted with a fire guard, and if possible, an isolation valve should be fitted to a gas fire or cooker to ensure it can only be switched on if a carer is around to supervise use.
- Attempt to optimize natural daylight as this provides crucial information about the time of day.
- Timers and motion-sensitive sensors can be helpful to make sure there is appropriate lighting in the evening.
- Think about setting up main heating with thermostatic controls that will automatically begin if the temperature level drops below a certain level instead than needing to count on manual controls.
Safety and Security:
- Minimize the threat of falls by installing handrails on stairs, provide rails on steps, and get rid of rugs or loose carpets that might become a tripping threat.
- Fitting a KeySafe on to an outside wall enables the front door to be kept locked at all times. Family members, good friends and carers who know the KeySafe code can still enter the home when needed.
- Ensure a smoke alarm system is fitted– preferably mains operated so you do not have to worry about changing batteries.
- Bathrooms can become a high risk accident location and hygiene has to be a priority. Colour coding essential devices such as grab rails, tooth brush, and even soap, can assist as a memory aid, and installation of rails and a toilet riser can provide physical support. Numerous older people find climbing in and out of a bath challenging so it is worth considering fitting a level access shower or wet room. Getting this done as early as possible enables you to discover ways to use it- helping preserve self-reliance as long as possible, and afterwards makes it easier for carers later. Sensing units can be fitted to the skirting boards so that if the taps are left running and trigger a flood, the system will turn off the water and raise the alarm system. Specially adapted plugs are also available that drain water should a tap be left running.
- There is an ever growing range of equipment, gadgets and pressure-pad and movement sensors linked by a telephone line to a nominated person or call center that can inform a carer to a potential problem.
Beneficial sources of details on the most up to date aids readily available, which can be accessed by clicking in the link below, are: