Stirling University’s Dementia Services Development Centre states approximately 80% of home care residents in the Northshore are living with some form of dementia. Given those statistics, it is important for people living with dementia to have a dementia-friendly home. Home environments can be rearranged to adapt to the person’s needs, and bring a little extra safety and familiarity back into their lives. Small changes throughout the senior’s home can make a huge difference in the lives of people with dementia. Not only can it improve the person’s overall life experiences, but it can also increase the person’s life expectancy.
One way create a dementia-friendly home is by giving the person a say in the setup of their living space. Giving seniors a say in the personalization of their home allows them to feel like they are living in a welcoming space, rather than living in a place that feels cold and uninviting. Getting a senior with dementia involved in a project in the home gives them a sense of purpose.
In order to do create a dementia friendly living environment, we first need to determine what era or period of time throughout their lives the senior identifies with the most. Finding pictures that the senior can connect with can be very powerful tools in helping them recognize the inside of their room. In a community it is also a great idea for any signs around the facility to be easily identifiable, so the senior can recognize what the signs mean. The color of the signage should contrast with the color of the wall in which it is posted, and the symbols should be clear and concise.
Often times people living with dementia have a difficult time remembering where their room is within a facility. The doors to all of the rooms look the same, and sometimes the person is unable to remember their room number. There are companies that can create personalized door decals, and can be designed to look similarly to a door from their previous home. Even if the door does not resemble a door to a resident’s previous home, the resident can choose which door design they like to make them feel more at home. Having the decal helps people differentiate between different rooms, and will allow seniors to better remember which room belongs to them.
Although making the senior feel comfortable is a high priority, it is extremely important to keep them safe. Eating is generally a very simple task; however it can be more challenging for a senior with dementia. People with dementia often lose their coordination skills and may need special eating-utensils to help them with their meals. There are utensils designed to help reduce the amount of spillage, making it easier for the senior to eat their food. Another way to make it easier for the person with dementia to see the food on their plate is to use plates that are primary colors. Very basic colors do not distract the person while they are eating, and can create a more successful eating experience for them.
People with dementia often lose some coordination increasing chances of losing their balance and falling. Grab bars and drop-down support bars are great additions to bathrooms that can help seniors maintain balance when getting around the restroom. In addition to the equipment, providing contrasting colors throughout the room will allow the seniors to differentiate between the toilet, stools or any other items located in the bathroom.
Making changes like these throughout a facility can significantly alter the living experience for people with dementia. Dementia is difficult for seniors and their families to understand, but it is important to keep seniors safe and living comfortably in their home.