Research shows that in the UK, 1 in 11 people over the age of 65 has dementia, and with people living longer, that figure is increasing. It is estimated that by 2030, the number of people with dementia in the UK will be more than 1 million.
Live-in dementia care
Familiar surroundings and routines can help to reduce stress and anxiety for those living with dementia, which is why at Bright Care we believe that those with dementia can be cared for safely within the comfort of their own home. Our Care Assistants are full-trained to support those with dementia. Our live-in dementia care service offers 24/7 care and companionship that is tailored to your loved ones needs.
Caring for a loved one with dementia can be challenging, so here are some of our suggestions to make life a little easier and safer for those living at home with dementia.
Tips on how to create a dementia-friendly home
One way of supporting your loved ones with dementia is to create a dementia-friendly home. As dementia can affect memory, cognitive abilities, and physical coordination, you will find that by making some modifications to their home you can help to minimise confusion, anxiety, and lower the risk of accidents, whilst maintaining their independence, safety, and overall wellbeing.
Modifications around the home
Removing clutter and unnecessary furniture from around the home can help those with dementia to find what they need and help them to feel less confused and distracted. Keep the layout as simple as possible and also a constant floor covering throughout the home can help reduce confusion caused by different textures.
Poor coordination and disorientation are associated with dementia, so by removing any trip hazards you can reduce the risk of slips or falls. Make the home as safe as possible to move around by removing any mats, rugs, cables, etc. Installing handrails and grab bars can also help to prevent falls and provide support.
Other safety measures throughout the house you can consider are locks on cupboards containing any hazardous cleaning products and covering any sharp corners on furniture with padding to reduce the risk of injury.
Good lighting throughout the home can help to reduce shadows that may cause confusion or anxiety, reduce the risk of falls and makes orientation easier. You can let in more natural daylight by removing any dark or unnecessary curtains or blinds, using higher watt light bulbs for general use and installing nightlights in hallways, bathrooms and bedrooms can help to reduce disorientation. Reduce reflections by removing or covering mirrors, as these can be distressing to those with dementia, as they may not recognise themselves.
Decorating the home of those with dementia with contrasting colours and minimal patterns can make it easier to identify walls, floors, and furniture. Patterns such as stripes or dots can cause disorientation. Ensuring that the floors and the walls are distinctly different in colour can also help. Choosing bold colours for furnishings, such as tables, chairs and beds, will help your loved one to see them clearly. It is also useful to choose brightly coloured cutlery and crockery, so they are easily identifiable.
Labelling things is very useful, as dementia can affect the ability to remember where things are and what order things should be done in. Placing signs on doors, such as kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living room can also help, and supporting the word with a picture is important. You can also place labels on cupboards and drawers to identify what is in them. Using a calendar or whiteboard for important dates or things to remember can be helpful. It is also important to place items in the same place every time, such as having a specific shelf for keys, wallet and mobile phone.
A sign on the bathroom door will help with finding the bathroom and removing any bathroom mats can reduce the risk of a fall. Using contrasting-coloured towels, loo paper, and toiletries can assist with identification and a brightly coloured loo seat can help your loved one to find the toilet more easily. Clearly labelling the hot and cold taps is also helpful and a flood prevention plug in the bathtub can reduce the risk of water flowing over into the bathroom.
Creating a sanctuary in the bedroom can make your loved ones feel safe and comfortable. Those with dementia can struggle to know when it is time to go to bed. Adding black out blinds or curtains to bedrooms can help to signify when it is bedtime, as the room can be dark, no matter what time of year it is. Using contrasting linen on the bed makes it easily identifiable from the rest of the room. Where possible remove too much choice when getting dressed. Picking out clothes for your loved one to wear the night before and placing them in a visible location can help reduce confusion and overwhelming sensations caused by too much of a selection.
Most kitchens are full of drawers and cupboards that hide things away from sight; this can cause much confusion for someone with dementia. Adding labels to drawers and important items that are used daily can help with finding things. You can also help by removing clutter from work surfaces, locking away any harmful substances, keeping human and pet food separated, using plain bright colours throughout the kitchen, and clearly labelling pre-prepared meals in reusable containers.
There are many useful products available to help make life easier for those with dementia. These include phones and remote controls with larger buttons, digital clocks showing time, day and date, and easy-grip utensils. You can try using supportive technology to help your loved ones, such as devices that give audio reminders, sensor activated lighting and appliances with automatic shut-off features.
By making these modifications around the home of your loved one with dementia, you will hopefully be helping to make their lives a bit easier to navigate. However, it is also important that they feel comfortable within the safety of their familiar surroundings, and you can assist with this by incorporating cherished objects, books and photos around their home to help with memory recall. You can create a comfortable seating area as well, using cushions and blankets, which can help promote relaxation.