Making some thoughtful modifications to your home environment can make daily life much easier and safer for a loved one with dementia needing full-time or overnight care.
Even small changes to lighting, furniture arrangement, accessibility features, and clutter can greatly support their independence and reduce confusion or agitation.
Install Appropriate Lighting Throughout the Home:
- Increase natural daylight coming into rooms by fully opening curtains and clearing any window obstructions like bushes.
- Add more artificial lighting sources as needed, especially on stairways. Use motion sensor lights in hallways or bathrooms.
- Reduce glare, shadows, and dark corners that can cause misperception. Ensure bedrooms are able to be darkened fully for restful sleep.
Take Steps to Minimize Excess Background Noises:
Carpets, rugs, curtains and cushions help absorb echoes and ambient sounds. Turn off the television, radio or other devices when no one is actively watching or listening.
Get hearing aids or devices to address any hearing loss, which amplifies noise.
Reduce competing background noises that can feel overstimulating.
Choose Safer, Supportive Flooring:
Remove trip hazards like area rugs and electrical cords from walking paths. Select non-glare flooring with a matte finish in colours that contrast walls.
Use brightly coloured furniture and bold pathway runners that stand out against floors. Bathroom grab bars in contrasting hues also aid visibility.
Use Color and Contrast Strategically Throughout the Home:
- Paint walls and ceilings in neutral tones and make furnishings or accent pieces pop with bold, vivid colours.
- Contrasting colours help define edges and clearly distinguish boundaries between surfaces and items.
- For example, choose brightly coloured toilet seats, dishes, and chair cushions that stand out against their surroundings.
Address Light Reflection Issues That May Cause Confusion:
Cover or remove mirrors and reflective surfaces if seeing their reflection causes distress or confusion for your loved one.
Close curtains or blinds at night to avoid glare from exterior windows and glass doors that may disorient. Eliminate glossy, shiny tile or flooring that can appear wet or slippery.
Use Clear Labels and Signs to Help with Wayfinding:
Post clear, large-print labels or signs on interior doors, cabinets, and closets identifying the contents or purpose of the space. Also include photos, illustrations or icons. For effective visibility, place signs slightly lower than usual in the visual field.
Incorporate Supportive Assistive Devices and Technology:
Install easy-to-use telephones with large numbered buttons, digital clocks displaying the date and time, bathroom grab bars in contrasting colours, automated medication reminders, motion sensor lighting, and other assistive devices tailored for dementia-related disabilities.
Smart home technology like Alexa can also automate lighting, thermostats, and more through voice commands.
Remove Hazards and Secure Outdoor Areas:
Fence in or enclose outdoor spaces to allow safe, supervised wandering and gardening. Install even, non-glare walking paths and adequate night lighting at entrances and exits.
Provide sheltered, comfortable seating areas for relaxation and raised plant beds for outdoor activity. Reduce tripping risks like exposed tree roots or uneven pavers.
Maintain Familiar, Stable Settings as Much as Possible:
Keep furniture layouts consistent and predictable. Slowly introduce any new necessary items like grab bars or seating.
Provide structure and routine through regular daily schedules for meals, activities, and sleep. Avoid frequently redecorating rooms or rearranging personal belongings.
Adapting your home environment by reducing clutter and stimulation, enhancing safety and accessibility, and supporting independence can help a loved one with dementia better manage daily activities with less anxiety and confusion.
A calmer, dementia-supportive home facilitates providing attentive overnight care.