Creating a dementia-friendly home environment
If you have dementia creating a dementia-friendly home environment can help reduce stress and agitation.
If someone is agitated staying calm and relaxed can be difficult. By having as much in place as possible to keep a relaxed background environment can help.
Below are some helpful hints for creating a dementia-friendly home environment
Get rid of clutter
Remove anything from kitchen work surfaces that are not required on a daily basis; for example, leave out the kettle, a cup, some tea bags and the biscuit tin. Put away gadgets, notebooks, and anything not needed daily away in a cupboard.
So that the person with dementia does not have to remember where things are. (Place rarely used items at the back of the cupboard out of sight)
Ensuring each room has enough lighting can make the most of a person’s capabilities and help to compensate for poor eyesight. It can assist people in finding their way around, aid them in performing specific tasks and minimalize falls. Maximise the amount of natural light by pushing back curtains or lifting blinds. Increase the wattage of the light bulbs and have additional electrical points fitted to enable further lighting. Use movement sensors in bathrooms that will automatically light up the toilet area.
Position of the lighting
People with dementia may get confused and mistake a shadow as strangers so careful consideration should be giving when positioning lighting.
People with dementia may not immediately recognise themselves and may think the reflection is a window with a stranger or the reflection may cause distress at seeing an older version of themselves. To help alleviate confusion, remove mirrors or use a reversible mirror that is turned around. Draw blinds/curtain in the evening to stop the reflections from windows.
Get rid of trip hazards
Small changes, for example, removing rugs and minimising clutter can help make the place safer underfoot. Ensure carpet strips are the same colour, and the flooring is a contrasting colour to the furniture.
Petting an animal can give all sorts of health benefits including reducing stress. However, pets can be very demanding. Having something like a fish tank is very calming and relaxing and not as demanding. However, if a pet is not for you there are a range of dementia-friendly companion pets available.
Where possible keep noise to a minimum. Only have the radio or TV on if the person is watching or listening to it. Having a person’s favourite music can be relaxing but try to avoid radio stations with frequent news or adverts. Have a look at https://musicmemories.bbcrewind.co.uk/ a website designed for people with dementia to reconnect with their memories.
Create a “den”. Have one room where the person can go site, watch out the window and have to hand their favourite books and memorabilia.
Exercise reduces stress. It is important that a person with dementia can access gardens or outdoor areas adjacent to their homes. The areas should be easy to access with well-maintained paths to help minimise trip hazards.
Remember that every person is individual, what works for one may not work for another. For more information or help please visit our Help page where you can find a list of organisations that can help.
(Sources: University of LEEDS, University of Stirling, Bradford, Worcester, Salford)