According to Alzheimer’s Society, there are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and that number is predicted to grow to over one million by 2025.
With the number of people being diagnosed with dementia growing yearly, home care is becoming imperative to keeping those with the condition cared for.
But the home, as familiar and loving as it may be, can be scary to someone suffering from dementia.
Lindsey Edgehill, sales and marketing director at Helping Hands Home Care, commented: “The home should be a safe place for those living with dementia, but at times it can be disorientating.
“Home care is incredibly beneficial for those with dementia as it enables them to be cared for in their familiar, comfortable surroundings.
“Applying some of these recommendations to a loved one’s home will not only leave them feeling safe and secure, but it also enables relatives to have peace of mind when they are not around.”
Here, Lindsey recommends what you should do to a home to make it safer for someone suffering from dementia:
In the living room
• Dementia sufferers often struggle to recognise their own surroundings due to confusion, memory loss and difficulty with vision. Keep carpets and soft furnishings plain and avoid using busy or crazy patterns.
• Display lots of photographs from their past and present to help evoke fond memories, which bring a sense of comfort and security.
In the kitchen and dining room
• Use bold plates and coloured crockery that contrasts with the food they’re eating and always lay a white or light-coloured plain tablecloth; colours can be difficult for those living with dementia.
• Our pictorial memory is stronger than our memory for words. Placing signs on cupboards and doors around the house will help those with dementia distinguish what they are looking at and what they are looking for.
• Label hot and cold taps so that your loved one does not get confused between the two.
• Create a memory wall or add images of loved ones and family to the fridge as a reminder that they’re not alone.
In the bathroom
• “Dementia can affect vision, which makes it difficult to distinguish between objects of the same colour,” says Lindsey. With this in mind, if a toilet seat is white, try changing it for a black one. If the floor is a light colour, this might explain why your loved one cannot differentiate between a toilet seat and a cream floor.
• If there’s a shiny bathroom floor, place a taped down, non-slip bathmat to the floor so that they can distinguish between different parts of the room.
• Cover up mirrors as it can be confusing for those with dementia as they may not recognise their reflection.
In the bedroom
• Leave interior room doors open so that they can see clearly where everything is in each room.
• Place a lamp at the side of the bed so it can be easily accessed.
• Consider installing an adjustable bed to ensure your loved one doesn’t fall out or struggle to get in.
In the garden
• Gardening is a great activity for those with dementia as it keeps the mind active. Encourage your loved one to try potting plants and weed the garden, but remember to keep any gates closed so they are not tempted to wander.
For more information on how to make your home dementia-friendly, check out the Helping Hands dementia-friendly homes tool.