How to turn a house into a dementia friendly home
One way that you can help an individual that has dementia live independently in their home is to help make their house a dementia friendly home for them.
This means that their house is easy to navigate, safe to enjoy a full life and be as safe and comfortable as possible. You do this by making their house a dementia friendly home.
There are many products you could go out and buy but there are a few simple changes you can make yourself. They cost very little money but can make a big difference to the person’s life when they live in their own home.
Stirling Universities report on how to make a dementia friendly home
Stirling Universities recently published a report on how we can make a dementia friendly home for a person. This could involve replacing certain everyday items with dementia friendly items that could be more useful. These could be items like glass fronted fridges to help a person see their food or easy to read clocks showing night and day.
Another great way to make a home more dementia friendly is to place signage outside each room, this aids navigation and can help stop confusion.
There are simple changes around the person’s home that can be made that can help make a dementia friendly home. We take a look at some of the simple checks and changes you can make to help make a house a dementia friendly home.
- Make the bed simple to make up. A quilt is often better than many blankets. Also, trailing blankets on an unmade could lead to an accident if the persons feet were to get caught up or slip on the blankets or quilt.
- Provide bedside lamps. Preferably on each side of the bed. These should have the control switch located on the flex and not under the lampshade if possible.
- Have a telephone fitted in the bedroom if possible so the person does not have to go downstairs to answer the phone.
- Have a clear area around the bed making it easier for the person to get in and out of their bed.
- Provide a bedside table that is big enough to place a drink and maybe a book onto.
- Bedroom furniture that have drawers or wardrobes should be easy to open, It may be helpful to the person to label furniture drawers with whats inside.
- Provide a nightlight that illuminates the way to the bathroom.
- Have a pull cord switch located next to the bed to make it easier for the person to turn on and off the main light.
- The main bedroom light should be bright to help with dressing.
- Always make sure there are no mains ‘plugged in’ electrical devices placed in the bathroom.
- Are there adequate grab rails in the bathroom. These can be placed close to the toilet and bathtub. If there are, always make sure they are secure and fitted correctly.
- If there are any bath mats make sure they are firmly fixed in place to prevent the person slipping.
- Is the hot water not to hot, the hot water should be cool enough to make sure the person does not scald and burn themselves. Many accidents happen when a person gets into a bath water that is too hot. Devices can be fitted to appliances like sinks and bathtubs that do not let the hot water get to hot.
- Is the lighting in the bathroom bright enough for the person to see correctly?
- Sinks and bathtubs should have an overflow facility to stop floods should the person leave a tap running.
- Make sure there are no loose areas of carpet fitted to the stairs.
- Is the banister rail secure. A banister rail fitted to both sides of the stairs can help a person navigate the stairs more easily.
- Never store anything on any part of the stairs, this also means at the top and bottom landing area of the stairs.
- Try to have the stairs lit at night-time by the addition of a night-light placed at the top and bottom of the stairs. They should be located next to the light switch that controls the stairs light to help switching the stairs light on and off.
- Keep electrical items away from the sink. Make sure that when any electrical kitchen equipment are plugged in that they will not extend to the sink. This kind of danger was recently exposed in Coronation Street when Alzheimer’s suffering Lesley was killed off when she was electrocuted when she placed a ‘still plugged in’ toaster into the sink.
- It may help to place dementia friendly signs on key appliances and cupboards. A notice on a fridge saying ‘FOOD’ or a sign on a cutlery drawer saying ‘KNIFE FORK SPOON’ can be a great help.
- Is the flooring non-slip?
- Is the kitchen well-lit? Bright lights in a kitchen can help a person with dementia enormously.
- Buy cooking pots and pans that have dementia friendly handles which are large and are two-handed .
- Does the cooker have an automatic cut off? Also sinks that have an overflow pipe in case a person leaves a tap running.
- Make sure that the hot water tap does not produce water that is too hot.
- Ensure that Work surfaces are free from clutter and everyday utensils are easily located. Try not to store anything in high cupboards. It is much better if a person does not have to use a step-ladder or climb onto the work surface to locate an item.
- Always have emergency and family telephone numbers on display next to the telephone. If possible the person should have a dementia friendly telephone with big buttons and/or a photo keypad telephone for easy recognition of the person they want to contact. It may also be helpful to have a corded telephone in the home so they do not lose the handset. It is helpful to have the telephone situated on a low table so if the person should have a fall they may be able to still reach the telephone.
- The floor area in the living room should be clutter free. All carpets should be fitted correctly and any rugs the person has should be firmly fixed in place to avoid slips.
- All electrical appliances should have their cables safely placed around the edge of the room, preferably under the carpet. An on/off switch fitted on the electric socket should make switching on and off appliances easier and safer than having to keep unplugging any electrical device.
- If the person has a particular chair they prefer or a chair they like to sit in, is it easy for the person to get up from the chair?
- All furniture should be sturdy and able to withstand a person leaning on them.
- Is there a dementia friendly clock in the living room. The best type of clocks for a person with dementia is the ones that show whether it is night or day.
- Does the house have an independent alarm system in place to help the person if they require assistance. Home monitoring kits can be bought for the person’s home to give you peace of mind. Home monitors for a persons that has dementia can be ones that can be monitored by yourself through GPS (like a mobile phone that allows you to track a persons whereabouts) or they can also be monitored by a third-party that will alert you if the person requires assistance, they monitor the person with dementia for you, although there is usually a charge for the service.
- Have an area for recycling and waste bins located close to the house door.
- Make sure there are no trip areas, broken and uneven paving slabs, concrete or sunken paving can be a dangerous hazard.
- Mark the edge of steps with white paint to allow the steps to be seen easier. Make sure the are no loose steps.
- Keep all pathways clear of clutter, especially the pathway that leads to the bin area.
- Dirt, moss, leaves and weeds can become slippery on pathways so keep all paving and paths clean and free of moss, algae, leaves and weeds.
- Does the area around the front door have an outside light fitted. It is also helpful if any areas where outside steps are located to be also lit.
- Is there a ready supply of salt or sand at hand for icy, wintry conditions to defrost the pathways.
Extra ways you can make a dementia friendly home
- Fit smoke alarms. This goes for any home. It is also advisable to have a carbon monoxide detector fitted if the person has gas appliances installed in the home.
If you know of any other ways to help make a dementia friendly home please let us know below. We welcome you tips and ideas that may benefit somebody to live more safely in their own home.