Decorating for Dementia
Living with someone who has dementia can be challenging at times. In the early stages, many people continue to enjoy life in much the same way as before their condition was diagnosed. However, they may start to feel anxious, scared and stressed as the symptoms get worse. They may struggle to remember things, concentrate or follow a conversation. Every individual is unique and dementia affects people in different ways.
Dementia is the term used to describe any condition where different brain functions, including memory, thinking and communication, decline over time. No two people will have exactly the same symptoms. As we age, everyone gets more forgetful, but this doesn’t mean it’s a sign of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
© Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com
If you live with a person who has dementia, it’s important to support them in every way you can. Help them to maintain skills and abilities and to have an active social life. This can lead to them feeling better about themselves.
Ensure the person can maintain a better quality of life by helping them with everyday tasks, such as shopping, walking the dog, laying the table, or gardening.
Experts suggest using memory aids around the home to help the person remember where everything is. This can include putting labels on cupboards and drawers, or signs on doors, to make them feel less confused.
The Dementia Centre suggests using colour and contrast to help people with dementia to identify rooms and key features in their home. This can help to facilitate independent living when people can find their way around their home and use facilities unaided. An example is having doors of different colours so that people can easily identify the bathroom and differentiate it from the bedrooms.
As a system that is deployed in some care homes to help the residents find their rooms, it can help if the colour of the resident’s bedroom door is the same colour as the front door of their previous home, for example.
Draw attention to important features in the home by using a colour that contrasts sharply with the background. Contrast the light switches, plug sockets and handrails with the colour of the wall. Paint the handles of the doors and windows in a contrasting colour to help people to recognise and use them.
Use contrast in the kitchen, such as highlighting the edges of cabinets and tables, to help people navigate their surroundings. Use coloured mats and crockery that contrast with the tablecloths.
In the bathroom, fit a toilet seat in a colour that contrasts with the toilet and any other nearby surfaces, helping to make it more visible and identifiable.
Use contrasting colours on step-edges to emphasise the potential hazards.
Researchers at Loughborough University have designed a special concept house that is ideal for people with dementia. The aim of the research is to help them to stay in their own home for longer. Light-coloured carpets are prevalent, as sometimes, people with dementia can perceive dark carpets as having holes.
Plug points are high up, so they are clearly visible, and residents won’t forget where they are. Windows open automatically if the temperature gets too hot. The taps are different colours, to differentiate clearly between hot and cold water.
One important feature of the house is very large windows to ensure the residents have as much exposure to light as possible. This is to combat a common feature of dementia, when the circadian rhythm (the 24-hour day rhythm of our body clock) is disrupted.
When the sun goes down, people with dementia can become agitated and restless – a symptom known as “sundowning”. Prolonged exposure to light is effective and can even help them to sleep better.
Helping people with dementia to remain in their own home for longer could become increasingly important in future. The number of people with dementia is increasing because we are living longer, so enabling people to live independently could alleviate some of the strain on care homes. According to research, one in six people aged over 80 will be affected by dementia.
If you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, Kinderkey provides safe sleeping solutions for people who may be at risk of falling or climbing out of bed. Please contact us to find out how we can help.