How to make a dementia-friendly home

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure the home is easy, safe and comfortable to live in.

Being able to live at home enhances the lives of seniors. To be comfortable and independent can be the key to living many long and happy years with dementia. At Home Instead Camden we spend lots of time in the homes of people with all forms of dementia, and know that making your home dementia-friendly can make a huge difference.

Every person’s home and needs are different, so don’t worry if not all of these steps feel right. The sooner you can make changes the better — ideally before they have become an issue, because change at a later stage can be disorientating. You know what’s best, but here are some starting points:

  • Lighting— make sure the space is as well lit as possible, with as much natural light as possible. Make sure windows are unobstructed and lightbulbs are working. Light helps us make sense of the world we’re in.
  • Watch out for trip hazards. Make sure flooring is safe — are there any wires running across rooms, loose floorboards, or rugs/carpets with curling up edges that are likely to cause a fall?
  • Keep a list of important contacts right by the phone. This should include emergency numbers and close friends and family. If they use a computer, do the same there, with clear instructions on how to, for example, send emails or call someone.
  • Use clocks that display time, date and day of the week. Make sure they’re large and easy to read.
  • Think about decoration and colours. If at all possible, try to use similar flat tones for the floor throughout the home. Avoid patterned curtains and carpets. Make sure key points like light switches are clear and contrast with the wall — they must be easy to see. Contrasting tones can be useful everywhere, from the bathroom to front door.
  • Labelling everything from who is in photographs to what’s in cupboards can make a big difference. Label drawers and cupboards with everyday items, and clearly mark hot appliances such as radiators.
  • Make sure the cooker has an automatic shut-off.
  • Use clear plastic containers, and leave doors open so it’s easy to see what’s inside.
  • Sometimes mirrors can become confusing for people with dementia. Keep an eye out for this, and if it’s a problem consider removing unnecessary mirrors.
  • Use a clear notice board with daily to-do lists. Also encourage them to keep all their important items, like wallet and keys, in the same place every day.
  • Try to keep background noise to a minimum. That means turning the radio and TV off when not in use.
  • Keep any hazardous items locked in a cupboard. Cleaning products, paint thinners, strong medicines or power tools should all be kept out of easy accidental reach.

Think about which of these might be useful. Change can be distressing, so you’ll have to find a balance between making the home safe and changing too much. The sooner you can make changes, though, the better, and always communicate clearly with your loved one about any changes. Talk to them and ask for their input.

Of course, if you ever need extra help with making life at home comfortable, get in touch with us here at Home Instead Camden to talk about how our Care Professional can help.