How to Adapt a Dementia Patient’s House for an Easier Life

Written by Posted On Friday, 01 November 2019 04:39

The number of people worldwide who are living with dementia is steadily increasing due in part to longer life-spans. While dementia can affect different people in many different ways, and not all signs of mental health decline are the same, there are ways in which you can help them to manage the condition. As the ‘No Place like Home report’ has found, simple changes to the home environment can help.

Simplify the layout

Homes which are designed in an open-plan style provide a simple map layout to make it easier for a person to navigate their way around without needing to try and remember what each individual room is for or where things are in the house. Open-plan style can help to prevent disorientation and can also help to avoid the problem of bumping into or falling over furniture. If it’s not possible to knock down walls to reconfigure the house layout you could create an open space by rearranging furniture and removing ornaments and rugs which could constitute a trip hazard.

Let in the light

In dementia, there is sometimes a phenomenon called ‘sundowning’. This refers to the loss of the 24-hour circadian rhythm where the patient’s ability to differentiate between night and day disappears. Once darkness falls they can become agitated and restless, a condition which many carers can attest to. Some dementia patients can hallucinate and imagine that they see things and understandably this causes great fear and distress. To avoid this you should ensure that windows let in as much light as possible during the day – no dark blinds or curtains. At night arrange the lighting to ensure that there are no dark corners or shadows anywhere in the home to confuse and upset the patient.

Decor should be light and neutral

Dark colours can deceive the brain into seeing holes or gaps and could cause a person to fall or feel frightened so use light, muted colours to foster a feeling of relaxation and safety. Make sure to use contrasting colours for walls, floors and skirting boards to help the person in navigating around the room. Place soft, squashy cushions on chairs and sofas but keep these neutral too. Avoid strong colours and jarring patterns.

More ideas

Dementia sometimes means that people simply forget the meaning of some words or can’t understand instructions. Help them by for example labelling taps with coloured tape – red for hot and blue for cold to provide a visual reminder. Re-position plug sockets high up on the wall for easier access with printed reminders of what they are for.

Place favourite photographs and pictures where they can be easily seen and play favourite music to help stimulate the memory and provide comfort.

It’s thought that the inability to regulate body temperature has a detrimental effect on certain forms of dementia. Consider installing automatic-opening windows which open when it gets too warm and close when the temperature falls.

For advice on how you can provide your loved one with a greater sense of comfort and security and so help them to live independently for longer find out more at the Live-in Care Hub (www.liveincarehub.co.uk).  

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