Help to Make a Home More Dementia Friendly
Learn 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.
Products & ideas for making a home dementia friendly
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.
Beds. An individual that has dementia will more than likely not be interested in making up a bed when they get up. So 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. Have a clear area around the bed making it easier for the person to get in and out of their bed.
Lighting. 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. Try to provide a nightlight that illuminates the way to the bathroom. The main bedroom light should be bright to help with dressing. If possible, 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.
Bedroom furniture. Try to 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 bedside table that is big enough to place a drink and maybe a book onto.
Telephones. Have a telephone fitted in the bedroom if possible so the person does not have to go downstairs to answer the phone. Locate it so it can be easily found.
- Two Washable Bed Protector / Pad with Tucks
- Bed Protector Size: 85cms x 90cms (33.5" x 35.5")
- Absorbent Capacity: 3000ml (3 litres)
- Helps keep user dry
- Helps protect against soreness and infection
Always make sure there are no mains electrical devices placed in the bathroom to avoid electrocution. An individual with dementia will often forget simple health and safety issues.
Bathtubs & Showers. Are there adequate grab rails in the bath and shower?. These can be placed close to or in the bath and shower. They are also good to place them near toilets. Make sure they are secure and fitted correctly.
Bath mats. If there are any bath mats make sure they are firmly fixed in place to prevent the person slipping. These can be fit into place with special double-sided tape.
Water Temperature. Is the hot water too 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.
Bathroom Lighting. Is the lighting in the bathroom bright enough for the person to see correctly?
Bath & Sink Overflow facility. This can happen to anyone but if you have a tendency to forget it can also be an expensive one. Sinks and bathtubs should have a good overflow facility to stop floods should the person leave a tap running.
- Shower /bath stool with rotating seat. Rotating seat reduces twisting and reaching while in the shower providing added manoeuvrability.
- The rotating top of the seat can be removed for easy cleaning. Height adjustable
- Ferruled feet provide stability on a wet floor. Smooth, accessible surfaces for ease of cleaning
- When not in use can be stored away and is portable for use elsewhere
- Dimensions are 33 cm wide, 33 cm depth and height adjustable 34 - 52 cm. Easy to use and easy to clean.
Stairs & Steps
Stairs and steps can be one of the biggest causes of accidents around a person’s home. With the leading cause of accidents on stairs and steps being caused by items being left on the stairs. Never store anything on any part of the stairs, this also means at the top and bottom landing area of the stairs.
Stair Carpet. Make sure there are no loose areas of carpet fitted to the stairs.
Bannister Rail. Is there a fitted banister rail and is it secure? A banister rail fitted to both sides of the stairs can help a person to go up & down the stairs more easily.
Stair lighting. Is the staircase well-lit? 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.
Electrical Items. 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. Does the cooker have an automatic cut off?
Signage. A person with dementia will often forget whats behind a door so 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.
Lighting. Is the kitchen well-lit? Bright lights in a kitchen can help a person with dementia enormously.
Pots and Pans. If the person still cooks or helps with the cooking consider buying cooking pots and pans that have dementia friendly handles which are large and are two-handed. Pans with glass lids can help the person see whats cooking too.
Kitchen Sinks. Do the sinks have an overflow pipe in case a person leaves a tap running? Check to see that the hot water tap does not produce water that is too hot.
Clutter Free Work Surface. 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.
- Ideal for those with limited mobility and dexterity
- Includes rocker knife, bendable fork and teaspoon and dessert spoon
- Soft grip handles for ease of use
- Red helps with food recognition for sufferers of Alzheimer's disease
- Ideal for those who can only eat with one hand
Telephones. 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.
Floor Space. 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.
Electric Devices Such as TV’s. 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.
Furniture. 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.
Clocks. 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.
Alarm Systems. 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.
You should try to make an outdoor space as dementia friendly as an indoor space. This may be for a garden or patio.
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
Gates and fencing. Try to have a lockable gate. Just in case the individual with dementia has a tendency to wander. This can allow the person to use the garden but also give the carer peace of mind. Ensure fencing is maintained and high enough if needed to stop a temptation to climb over and to stop a curious mind from wanting to wander beyond the fence line.
Outdoor Bins. Keep all pathways clear of clutter, especially the pathway that leads to the bin area. Have an area for recycling and waste bins located close to the house door.
Stop Outdoor surfaces becoming slippery. Dirt, moss, leaves and weeds can become slippery on pathways & driveways so keep all paving and paths clean and free of moss, algae, leaves and weeds. Why not consider applying a biodegradable apply & leave cleaner to outdoor surfaces to help keep your outside area clean and slip-free. Is there a ready supply of salt or sand at hand for icy, wintry conditions to defrost the pathways?
Outdoor Lighting. 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.
Garden Plants & Flowers. Plant flowers and plants that are not poisonous. Check with your local garden centre if you are unsure. Gardening in general can be very therapeutic for somebody with dementia because it stimulates the senses.
If you have a large garden paths that lead back to the same starting point are a great idea to stop confusion.
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.