The early to middle stages of dementia allow for loved ones or care receivers to still live at home, however, there are a few essential adjustments which need to be made to ensure they are kept both safe and active, allowing them the freedom they are looking for.
Here are a few top tips to re-arranging and securing the living space in order to make it more dementia friendly:
1. Ensure your home has good lighting
During the day, natural light is essential to making sense of where things are, including items of furniture or certain bedrooms. Make sure all windows and curtains are open during the day to allow for plenty of light, ensuring obstacles are noticeable. It’s also important to ensure a care receiver’s bedroom is dark enough at night so they get a good night’s rest, without distraction.
2. Secure your flooring
You’ll want to avoid falls and potential for trip-ups at all costs, so it’s important to remove all potential hazards. These may include loose rugs and floor mats, tangles of cable or loose wires, and avoid having wooden floors polished too often, as this is a major slip hazard. Ensure all bathrooms have non-slip shower or bath mats and are installed with support railing if needs be.
3. Keep things simple in the bathroom
It may be a handy idea to place a sign or picture on each bathroom door so your care receiver can distinguish where the bathroom is. If it makes things less fiddly, it may be worthwhile to remove the toilet seat lid, so the toilet can be more easily identified.
Try and pack away clutter in your bathrooms – the less clutter, the less likelihood of accidents or confusion. If possible, use brightly coloured towels and contrasting toilet paper so these items are easily recognisable and identified.
4. Place reminders of where things are
If memory recall has become an increasing issue for your loved one or care receiver, placing signs and images on cupboards and drawers, clearing stating or marking what’s inside them. You could even write simple instructions beside everyday appliances, reminding a loved one what it is used for.
5. Install safety equipment and sensors
Install hand rails along passageways, in bathrooms and even beside a bed to ensure the person you are caring for always feels safe and stable in the living space. It may also be wise to install smoke alarms, or water pressure sensors which detect whether water has been left running. You may need to consider installing an automatic thermostat in their bedroom to ensure they are never too cold or hot.
Making these changes to your own home may not be ideal, but they will go a long way to ensuring a safer, more pleasant living environment for you both. If your loved one is resistant to making these home adjustments to their own home, remind them it is a small compromise for being able to live and enjoy the comfort of their own space.