Whether it's yourself or someone else in your household, you might be wondering how you can keep a dementia patient safe and comfortable at home.
In this article, Alison Hughes from Coast Road Furniture shares a few ways to achieve more dementia-friendly interiors.
If you or someone you love has dementia, then you're not alone. There are more than 850,000 people in the UK living with the syndrome, and that number is expected to rise to 1 million by 2050 (NHS). And, while some may move to care or nursing homes to get the support they need, many people with dementia will choose to stay at home or live with their loved ones after their diagnosis.
When living with dementia, there are a variety of different needs to consider, particularly when it comes to creating a safe and comfortable environment for the dementia patient to thrive in. To minimise distress brought about by change, you might be tempted to leave your home exactly the way it is. However, a few smart swaps can help improve the quality of life and even the health of someone with dementia.
Below, I'll share four tips to bear in mind when making your home more dementia-friendly.
Top 4 Tips...
1. Light the way
Making sure your home is bright enough during the day and at night can help people to navigate the house safely and reduce the risk of tripping or getting lost. If you can, try to let in as much natural light as possible through your windows — avoid having furniture or heavy curtains and blinds that block sunlight from entering the rooms of your house. Not only is this an effective way to ensure good visibility during the day, but natural light has been proven to have a variety of mood and health-boosting benefits as well, particularly for people with dementia.
After the sun sets, there should be plenty of easy-to-use lights and lamps available to transition to the evening. You can also set these to turn on automatically with a timer so that you don't have to remember to switch them on manually.
2. Silence distressing sounds
Loud noises can be very overwhelming, and even low background noise can cause a range of problems for people with dementia, including feelings of distress or agitation. One way to reduce the amount of noise in your home is to add plenty of soft furnishings that can absorb sounds and provide a calmer, quieter environment.
Carpets can muffle footsteps, while cushions, curtains, and other cosy décors can help reduce echoes that you might not notice day to day but can be a source of discomfort if you have dementia. Then, you can play your favourite songs or watch your favourite shows for aural stimulation without disturbances.
3. Upgrade your furniture
Mobility issues and dementia often go hand in hand, particularly among the aged. Some of these issues may not even be directly caused by dementia but can include clumsiness, difficulties when walking or moving, or even chronic pain. So, some adaptive furniture can help make your home more comfortable to live in. These can include tilting or reclining chairs, which are easier to get in and out of, and adjustable beds that can be raised or lowered to suit your needs. Chairs with high backs and arms are also easier to get in and out of in addition to providing better support while sitting.
Even if you don't have a disability or severe mobility issues, furniture like this can just provide some additional support and comfort to make living at home that little bit easier.
4. Organise your home and belongings
While a neutral palette can be soothing, it's all too easy for important items to get lost around your home if you stick to dull colours in your interiors, particularly if you have a lot of possessions. You can reduce confusion by using bright, eye-catching hues to make each item stand out. Objects to focus on include important items like the telephone, medications, light switches, and even large appliances like the fridge that can help people remember to eat.
It's also a good idea to label all the doors in your house with large, clear letters (or even pictures) to help with memory loss, especially in the bathroom. This includes cupboard doors and drawers so that their contents can be easily identified. Even people with very mild dementia will benefit from this as it should allow them to navigate around their homes and find what they're looking for much quicker. This might also make tidying up easier, and a tidy environment can reduce the likelihood of trips and falls.