Creating dementia-friendly environments in the home

Caring for someone with dementia can be made a lot easier if you know how to create a home environment that can support their lifestyle.

Kitchen and dining room

You should make it clear where everything is in the kitchen. This can sometimes be difficult in modern fitted kitchens where white appliances such as fridges and dishwashers are hidden behind unit doors. To help, you might want to label where these items are. You should also label the hot and cold functions on taps clearly.  Replace closed cupboards with open shelving so that they can see foodstuffs and utensils. This will also give the person who is caring for them an idea of whether or not their patient is eating well.  It’s important that everything that may be required is well within reach and that the appliances are easy to use. Assistive technology could help with this.

For the dining area, something as simple as setting the table has been proven to improve the appetite of a person with dementia. Use contrasting colours on tablecloths and cutlery so that these things can be easily seen and identified.

Bedroom

Sometimes a person with dementia will struggle to find their way around the home, particularly when faced with many doors. Make sure that the door is painted a different colour from the surrounding wall or perhaps personalise it with a sign.

Once in the room, make sure the bed is accessible from both sides and that the linen is in a colour that contrasts from the carpet. Ideally, the toilet area should be in plain sight from the bed as to avoid any questions about where the toilet is.  You may want to opt for a hospital-style bed that has raised edges as this will not only prevent people from falling out of bed but provide emotional support for those who have lived with a partner for many years.

Bathroom

The bathroom can present many challenges but changing the design slightly can help. Make sure toilet seats, handrails and towels are easily identifiable as this will prompt the person to use them. Bathrooms should always promote a comfortable experience so avoid a hospital-like appearance when considering the design.

For general safety, make sure that the thermostat is not too high as the person may forget to check that the water is a safe temperature. Install a special bath plug that allows the water to drain away if the bathtub gets too full.

People who have dementia may feel scared or anxious when they see their own reflection in the mirror as they’re no longer able to recognise themselves. For this reason, it might be necessary to remove or cover any mirrors.

For more information on dementia care visit Kentish Homecare

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