Making your home dementia-friendly
8 May, 2020
Some small changes to a home can make a huge difference to the happiness and safety of a person living with dementia. Help a family member with dementia to stay independent in their own home with these simple house modifications.
Dementia affects 1 in 10 people in Australia over the age of 65. When a person is first diagnosed with dementia, they typically have a lot of questions about their future. One of these will undoubtedly be about where they are going to live.
There are many benefits to a person with dementia continuing to live in their own home. However, even in familiar surroundings, they might forget the little things, like where the mugs are kept, or where the bathroom is. This can be a source of frustration.
There are some great changes you can make to the house to keep your loved one safe, frustration-free and independent. In this article, we look at some simple modifications you can make to a house to keep your loved one in the home they love for as long as possible. Read on for more information.
Why should someone living with dementia stay in their own home?
For anyone, the process of moving home is stressful. The new home can be disorienting and it can take a while to get used to your new surroundings. For somebody living with dementia, moving home is particularly difficult. After all, nothing is more disorientating than a move away from everything you know and love.
Being in a familiar environment is very important for a person living with dementia. They can rely on their regular daily routines to provide a sense of independence, purpose and security. A home is filled with memories, familiar sights, sounds and scents. When taken out of their home and away from the place they know, people with dementia can experience a faster cognitive decline.
How do I make my home dementia-friendly?
Whether you’re concerned for yourself or you’re caring for someone with dementia, there are many simple modifications you can make to a house to support memory loss.
Please keep in mind that this information is to be used as a guide, and is not one-size-fits-all.
Put up signs
Many people with dementia have signs up in their homes to remind them where things are kept at home. You can label the bathroom, or the cupboard containing all the mugs - whatever you may need.
Keep the house clutter-free
Keeping your home clutter-free is also important, as clutter can lead to confusion. When a room is not kept tidy, this can also be a tripping hazard.
Consider furniture and flooring
It’s also important to note that you should get furniture you can see clearly, and make sure flooring is safe. Colour contrasting in the home is vital. If the floors are too similar in colour to the walls, for example, this can be disorientating.
Stay healthy and well
If you are living with dementia, wellness is also important. This can be maintained as simply as by getting outside nearby for fresh air or by staying active and engaged.
In the home, it’s also best to have good lighting. This will help a person with dementia to stay aware of where they are. Natural lighting is better, but anything is fine, providing it’s always clear exactly where you are.
There is absolutely no reason why a person living with dementia should not be allowed to leave their own home. However, if a person living with dementia is prone to disorientation and wandering, it may be worth considering a deterrent for leaving the house unsupervised.
A black mat placed by a door can prevent them from wandering away. In a process known as “visual cliffing”, the brain of a person with dementia will often see the black mat as a hole and will avoid stepping on it.
What can I purchase to make living at home with dementia easier?
There are a number of items that it can be useful to have around the home to assist with care needs:
Labels and sign-making equipment, so you can make labels and signs. This can help you locate items or rooms in the home, or to understand what’s inside certain cupboards.
A whiteboard and pens, for jotting down reminders or writing down your schedule. When is your support worker due to come over? When are the grandchildren visiting next?
Clear food containers, to remind you of what’s inside.
An alarmed pill dispenser, to remind you to take any medicine.
Medical alert jewellery, to alert loved ones to emergencies or any falls. Many come with GPS, so that you can always locate the person in the event of trouble.
A black mat. When placed by doors, it can look like a hole - this prevents wandering. Please see the explanation above under the heading ‘Prevent wandering’.
How can specialised dementia care help to slow cognitive decline?
Unfortunately, dementia is a condition which gets progressively worse. However, with an innovative and personalised approach to in-home care, a person with dementia can maintain their independence for as long as possible.
So, how does Focus Care handle this? As one of Australia’s leading dementia home care providers, we focus on each client’s individual strengths, needs and potential. For further information, take a look at the Dementia Care Services section on the Focus Care website.
All of our care team have undertaken extensive dementia support training to ensure they have the highest quality skills. An experienced Care Manager will assess your or your loved one’s care needs and identify affordable modifications that can be made to your home to create a dementia-friendly environment.
Our tailored dementia care is one-on-one, which allows our care team to identify the smallest changes in your needs over time. Our services are fully customisable and adaptable, so we are able to modify your support plan to suit your changing requirements.
Using Montessori techniques, our team applies expert knowledge to slow cognitive decline, retain fine motor skills and engage our clients with meaningful activities that give them a sense of purpose and independence.
What is the Montessori method of dementia care and why does Focus Care use it?
Our use of the Montessori approach to dementia care sets us apart from other disability support and aged care providers.
The Montessori approach is made up of two elements:
Making the house a dementia-friendly environment
Encouraging independence and supporting memory loss through personalised activities
Activities are developed using best practice. This involves working with every client’s individual strengths. We get to know each client’s strengths and interests so that we can develop activities and a range of supports that the client will enjoy and engage with.
This empowering way of approaching home care can help assist you or your loved one to unlock memory and improve cognition and verbal skills.
As part of our Dementia Care Program, we assess each client and find out about them personally. Whatever interests, hobbies and passions a person has can be used to help slow cognitive decline! Our caring team builds activities, puzzles, games and schedules day trips designed to engage people with dementia in day-to-day life. We also offer tailored programs, such as art therapy or pet therapy. This reconnects them with a sense of self.