Getting older can be challenging as your body slows down, and if your mind starts to fall foul of dementia, it is doubly so. The longer a person with dementia can safely stay in their own home, the better. Making a few tweaks makes it possible to make a home dementia-friendly, allowing you to stay there as long as possible. Making a few sympathetic changes to an established home is less traumatic than uprooting someone already feeling disorientated. In this blog, you will know the 6 clever tips for making a home dementia-friendly.
Creating a sensory garden is a beautiful way to stimulate the senses and ground memories for someone who has dementia (or anyone for that matter!) – tactful choices of plants including favorites, scented varieties, and plants to encourage wildlife. Avoid high maintenance plants and planting schemes and plants with leaves or thorns that could cause injury. Even if the home environment has little outside space, a few well-thought-out plants in pots will benefit.
A well-kept, welcoming outside space has additional benefits by encouraging spending time outside, which is vital for good health. Exposure to natural light keeps the circadian rhythm in sync, helping with sleep; it also produces vitamin D, which is needed for bone health. Being outside will also encourage physical activity, whether it be light gardening, walking, or some other outdoor activity.
An Alarm System That Is Easy To Use And Access
As someone progresses through dementia, especially as age-related frailty increases, unfortunately, the likelihood of injury increases, and installing a medical alarm system is the best way to ensure that help is called for quickly. The best medical alert systems unobtrusively allow you to go about your day-to-day life with the peace of mind that support is at your fingertips. A variety of options will enable you to choose the right system to suit your lifestyle and adapt as your needs change. They can also give your family peace of mind by linking to an external email or phone number to alert a nominated person to any issues or irregularities in routine.
Layout And Furniture Choices
Consider the layout of the home and look at making changes that will make it easier for getting around and maintaining upkeep. Reduce clutter so that spaces within the home are easy to navigate and there are no trip hazards. Make sure furniture is not moved around often so that it is easily found every time – routine being an essential part of managing dementia symptoms. Signs on doors help with finding the bathroom and other areas and can also be used on cupboards.
A rocking chair by a window will have multiple benefits, as the chair itself is physically good for people living with dementia, and placement by a window provides natural light and a stimulating view to look out over. Armchairs should be not only comfortable but also easy to get into and up from. If outside space allows for it, have comfortable garden furniture placed in a comfortable spot to encourage time outside when the weather is nice.
Think About the Color Scheme
Keep colors clean, bold and clear to help keep various areas of the house visible and calming; avoid busy and overwhelming patterns as they can be distracting and cause disorientation. Also, be careful with items that can be misleading to someone who is not always in the present, such as dark-colored rugs that could be mistaken for a hole. Contrast is helpful for making things such as food and furniture stand out; for example, if bathroom furniture is white, replace the toilet seat with a red or blue colored one.
Lighting Is Important
Good lighting is essential for anyone, and used effectively can help someone with dementia immensely in various ways. Exposure to natural light helps regulate the circadian rhythm, which promotes a good sleep routine and is essential for delaying the decline in cognition. Comfortable furniture placed by a sunny window or a relaxing place to sit in the garden is excellent for this. Use mirrors both internally and externally to spread and diffuse light through the home, though do keep an eye on if they cause any distress and move or entirely remove them if they do.
Artificial lighting is just as important as natural light, partly because natural light is not always available and because eyesight naturally degenerates as a person ages. The amount of light someone in their seventies needs to be significantly more than someone in their seventies twenties. As such, make sure that there is plenty of lighting available, and the bulbs are bright. Highlight light switches with a contrasting color so that they are easily located on the wall. Consider steering clear of a lot of free-standing floor lamps that may not easily be seen as they can be a trip hazard or cause distress to someone who isn’t quite as conscious of what they see in their peripheral vision as previously.
Music is an excellent mechanism for connecting a person to memories and producing an emotional response that can lift their mood. This is useful in dementia care as it can slow down the cognitive decline that is occurring. So, when setting up a home for a person with dementia, make access to music easy with a dementia-friendly specific device or some other easy-to-use device. Program playlists, or make mixed CDs of the person’s favorite songs and have favorite albums to hand as well.
There are many excellent reasons to keep a person suffering from any form of dementia in their own home for as long as possible, and it is possible to achieve this by making a few adjustments to the home environment. Some changes will be costly and therefore need to be approached thoughtfully and with proper planning to execute well. Other changes need only be small, such as removing unnecessary furniture and accessories to reduce clutter or setting up a device for easy music access. Staying at home with the correct support system will help slow the decline and allow a person living with dementia to feel secure and happy in themselves.