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Creating A Dementia Friendly Home Design

designing for dementia
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There are many things to consider when designing a home for someone with dementia.

Some of them include physical features in the home environment such as safety equipment in the bathroom, railings on each side of the stairwell, adequate lighting throughout the home, and smart technology devices like Alexa or Google Home.

Dementia can significantly affect how we function in our daily lives. Basic tasks such as bathing, toileting, and brushing your teeth can be difficult and frustrating.

As an occupational therapist, I worked on simplifying and setting-up tasks to match that individual’s abilities as well as creating an environment that enhanced function and independence.

It’s important to allow people with cognitive impairment to take more time to complete activities, like washing their face and getting dressed. Doing tasks for them only creates more dependence and disability.

Creating an environment where people can successfully engage in activities of daily living is just as important.

The following are some tips to create a dementia-friendly environment that will also help older people without cognitive impairment, perform at their maximum potential.

Dementia is an an umbrella term representing many diseases that result in cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease being just one of them.

When Choosing A Location For A Dementia Friendly Home It Is Important To Consider The Following:

-proximity to medical care and other support services

-easy access to public transportation

-safety features such as security and alarm systems

-a neighborhood that is familiar and comfortable for the person with memory loss

When Designing The Interior Of A Dementia Friendly Home It Is Important To Keep The Following In Mind:

-simple and uncluttered good design

-easy to navigate layout in the living room

-sufficient lighting

-clear signage

-color coded rooms and hallways

-quiet spaces for relaxation and reflection

-carpeted areas (low pile) to reduce background noise and provide traction

-furniture that is sturdy and comfortable

-accessible bathrooms with grab bars, non-slip surfaces, seating in shower/bathtub area to promote personal hygiene

-emergency alert system

In Addition To The Physical Design Of The Person’s Home It Is Important To Create Routines And Structure. This May Include:

-a daily schedule posted in a common area

-Regular mealtimes

-Planned activities and outings

-A quiet time during the day

-A routine for bathing, dressing, using the bathroom, and sleeping

What Is Dementia Friendly Design?

Dementia friendly design is an approach to home design that takes into consideration the specific needs of individuals living with dementia in their daily life.

It promotes independent living as much as possible and focuses on key areas such as the bathroom and kitchen, as well as use of careful design and assistive technology to enhance spatial orientation in the built environment.

“When you think about home modification for a person living with dementia, you may picture installing grab bars or removing trip hazards. These kinds of changes can go a long way to make a person living with dementia feel secure and give their care partners peace of mind. But safety, while first priority, is not the end of the story. Recently, there has been an increased focus on creating dementia-friendly spaces that promote not only security and comfort, but also confidence and independence. One concept that provides guidelines for these spaces is Universal Design (UD).” 

Alzheimer’s San Diego

It includes elements such as:

-Designs which reduce confusion and clutter

-Calm colors with medium saturation and well lit rooms which help orientations

-Adaptable spaces for different levels of mobility

-Good visibility to walls, outdoor spaces and pathways

-Welcoming environments with comfortable seating

-Accessible technology which is easily understood and operated.

Dementia friendly design can help to create a safe environment for those living with dementia, allowing them to remain independent longer while providing peace of mind to their caregivers by making a few simple changes.

It also helps to reduce potential risks for falls, injuries and wandering.

Designing for a dementia friendly living space can also help to create a more inclusive community, giving those living with dementia a sense of belonging and purpose.

The benefits of dementia-friendly home design don’t stop there.

It can also reduce the costs associated with caring for those living with cognitive impairment by creating an environment that is easier to navigate and less expensive to care for.

How Do You Organize A Home For People With Dementia?

-A clutter-free home with items stored in easily accessible places

-Remove all tripping hazards including scatter rugs, cords, and low furniture

-Provide lighted pathways for night time use

-Securely lock exterior doors to prevent wandering

-Install a home security system with sensors or cameras to monitor activity

-Replace knobs and handles with lever hardware for ease of use

-Provide furniture that is comfortable, supportive, and stable

-Provide plenty of meaningful activities such as gardening, puzzles, reading, listening to music and board games

-Make sure the home is well-lit with natural light and task lighting for reading

-comfort height toilet seat

-Designate specific areas for different tasks such as cooking, eating, dressing, bathing, and relaxing

-Ensure each area is equipped with appropriate safety features like non-skid flooring, grab bars, and grab rails

-Ensure that any electrical outlets are out of reach to avoid potential dangers

-Remove clutter from the home to prevent confusion and tripping hazards

-Provide a safe environment with limited access to areas such as pool or patio area by installing appropriate gates or fences

-Organize items and furniture to create clear pathways for movement throughout the home

-Create areas that encourage social activities such as puzzles, books, cards or music

-Provide reminders and cues for daily activities such as bathing, dressing or eating

-Position furniture to maximize visibility of the television or radio in order to provide entertainment and stimulation

-Provide secure outdoor areas for activities such as gardening, walking or sitting in the sun.

-Use color contrasts to make it easier for people with vision problems to distinguish between objects and furniture. This can help the person to navigate better in the home.

-Provide clocks and calendars throughout the house, as well as other reminders of the time, date and day of the week.

-Place signs with large print and simple instructions on doors, walls or furniture to indicate where items are located or how to do certain tasks

-Consider including easy-to-use storage solutions such as dressers, shelves, and baskets so it’s easier to find items when needed

What Color Room Is Best For Dementia?

Calming colors are usually the best choice when decorating a room for someone with dementia, as bright and vivid hues can sometimes be distracting or overstimulating.

You could also hang calming artwork in the room, as visual stimulation can provide comfort without overwhelming. Soft incandescent lighting is also recommended to help create a peaceful atmosphere.

Organizing furniture in an open, uncluttered arrangement can make it easier for someone with dementia to navigate the room safely and comfortably.

Place furniture in a way that encourages movement and minimizes the need for someone with dementia to make tight turns or difficult stairway maneuvers.

Items such as photographs, furniture, and decorations can help create a familiar environment.

Keeping common areas tidy and clutter free will also help reduce stress and confusion for those with dementia.

Incorporating sensory elements such as calming music or soothing scents can also help create a positive atmosphere.

Avoid overwhelming the senses with too many bright colors or overstimulating elements that could cause agitation or confusion.

It is essential to incorporate safety measures into the home such as smoke detectors, lockable doors and cupboards, non-slip flooring, and covers for electrical outlets. It’s also important to keep dangerous items and medications out of reach.

Organizing a home for people with dementia requires careful consideration of the individual’s needs, preferences, and abilities.

It is best to consult with an occupational therapist or other medical professional in order to create a safe and comfortable environment that promotes independence and dignity.

With the right organization and support, people with dementia can maintain an enjoyable quality of life in their own home.

What Are The 6 C’s Of Dementia?

The 6 C’s of Dementia are commonly used to inform and guide care provided for people living with dementia. These C’s stand for:

-Compassion: Showing kindness, understanding, empathy and respect for people with dementia and their caregivers.

-Communication: Using strategies such as focusing on positive language, using physical prompts, and engaging in non-verbal communication.

-Care: Coordinating regular checkups with physicians and working closely with family members to provide appropriate dementia care.

-Community: Building relationships, providing access to activities or support groups, and finding meaningful ways for people with dementia to stay connected.

-Control: Creating a safe environment, setting boundaries and providing choices when possible.

-Coping: Encouraging positive behaviors, managing stress, and providing emotional support.

These 6 C’s of dementia provide an important framework for understanding the needs of people with dementia, as well as their caregivers.

They can be used to inform decision-making around care plans, medication management and lifestyle choices.

By taking the time to learn about the 6 C’s of dementia and their implications, families can create an environment that is supportive and understanding while promoting independence when possible.

With patience and compassion, families can successfully care for those living with dementia.

In addition to providing practical advice on how to care for someone with dementia, the 6 C’s of dementia also emphasize the importance of person-centered approaches.

Person-centered care involves focusing on the needs and preferences of individuals living with dementia, rather than just providing generic services or treatments.

This approach allows for more meaningful engagement and promotes dignity, autonomy, respect and self-determination.

Understanding each individual’s unique circumstances, particularly as the condition progresses, is essential for providing appropriate support.

At its core, the 6 C’s of dementia underscores the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when caring for a person living with dementia.

Each individual should be treated with respect and dignity, and their care should be tailored to their specific needs, abilities and preferences.

How Do I Make My Bedroom Dementia Friendly?

Making a bedroom dementia-friendly requires more than just tidying up and rearranging the furniture.

It is important to consider how you can create an environment that promotes security, comfort, and independence for the person living with dementia.

The following suggestions provide some guidance on how to make your bedroom dementia-friendly:

• Clutter-free: Make sure the bedroom is free of clutter to reduce any confusion or spatial disorientation.

• Familiar furnishings and decorations: Keeping things that are familiar to the person living with dementia can help them feel more secure in their environment. Keep furniture, pictures, and other items that are familiar and comforting.

• Well-lit and comfortable: A well-lit bedroom helps the person living with dementia feel secure. Make sure there is good lighting in the room that can be dimmed if necessary, as bright lights can be distracting and uncomfortable. Ensure mattresses are at a comfortable height, such as an adjustable bed, to reduce any risk of falling, bedroom doors should contrast from adjacent walls.

• Organize and declutter: Avoid clutter in the bedroom as it can be confusing to someone with dementia. Put away any non-essential items such as clothing and toys, and organize items into clearly labelled boxes or containers.

• Minimize distractions: Limit potential triggers of confusion by minimizing loud noises, bright lights and unfamiliar objects. Make sure that the TV is off or muted when not in use and avoid positioning it near the bed as this can lead to difficulty falling asleep.

• Comfortable décor: Use soothing colors such as neutral shades of blue, green and yellow on walls and furniture to create a calming environment. Provide comfortable seating for visitors and make sure that furniture is placed for easy navigation.

• Personalize the space: Use photos and personal items to create a familiar atmosphere. For example, place family photos around the room or hang up artwork from children or grandchildren. This can help evoke fond memories and reduce confusion.

• Safety features: Make sure your bedroom is equipped with safety features such as a nightlight, non-slip mats and handrails. It’s also important to make sure that electrical cords and other hazardous objects are out of reach.

• Reduce noise: Place non-slip rugs on hard floors to reduce echoing sounds from footsteps or music. If necessary, use earplugs or a white noise machine to muffle outside sounds.

What Is A Quiet Room For Persons With Dementia?

A quiet room is a safe, comfortable and calming environment that is specifically designed to provide an escape from the agitation and stresses of everyday life for those with dementia.

It can be used as a place of rest or recreation, and should be tailored to meet the individual’s needs and preferences.

• Comfort items: Consider adding items like favorite books, photos and music to the room. Personalizing the space can help create a sense of calm for those with dementia.

• Reduce clutter: Remove or hide any potential hazards that may be confusing or agitating to those with dementia. Ensure cords and other hazardous objects are out of reach.

• Make it sensory: Use a variety of sensory items like scent diffusers, calming music or a water feature to create a relaxing atmosphere.

• Light and air quality: Natural light is important in creating an inviting environment. Keep blinds open during the day and use nightlights for dim lighting at night. Good ventilation keeps the room free from odors and provides a comfortable and safe atmosphere.

• Color: Choose colors that are muted. Bright colors can be agitating so they should be avoided.

• Furnishings: Select furniture that is comfortable, familiar, and without sharp edges. Avoid glass tables. They are dangerous!

• Safety features: Install grab bars, non-slip mats and handrails as needed to ensure the person’s safety. Make sure there are no throw rugs that could trip them.

• Accessibility: Ensure access to the room is easy for both the person with dementia and their caregivers.

• Noise level: Keep the noise level in the room as low as possible to reduce agitation or anxiety. Use soundproofing materials, like cork floors or curtains, if necessary.

What Is The best Lighting For Person With Dementia?

• Soft lighting: Use soft, warm lights as opposed to overly bright or fluorescent lights that may be irritating or too intense for them.

• Nightlights: Install nightlights in the main rooms, hallways, and bathrooms to promote wayfinding skills. It also adds an additional layer of safety for individuals with poor eyesight. Consider using motion-activated lights that turn on when a person enters the room.

• Natural light: Increase natural light during the day by opening shades and curtains or installing skylights. This can help reduce agitation and improve mood and energy levels.

• Dimming: Invest in dimmers that allow you to adjust the brightness of the lighting in a room. This can help people relax and makes it easier for them to sleep at night.

• Color temperature: Choose bulbs with warmer color temperatures (around 2700K) versus the harsher, cooler options (4000K or more). The softer glow of a warm bulb is easier on the eyes and helps promote better sleep.

• Task lighting: Install task lighting to make specific activities, like reading or cooking, easier for people with dementia by providing extra light in a focused area.

What Can Make Dementia Worse?

Unfortunately, there are several things that can make dementia worse.

In particular, physical inactivity, social isolation, and sensory overload can all exacerbate symptoms of dementia.

Physical inactivity leads to deconditioning, which can impede cognitive abilities such as memory and problem-solving skills.

Social isolation is also a major risk factor for people with dementia, as it can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression.

Finally, sensory overload or a lack of stimuli can be detrimental for people with dementia since it can make them feel overwhelmed and frustrated.

It is important to provide a calm environment that has adequate light levels and noise control to help reduce these risks.

There are also certain lifestyle habits and environmental factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing dementia.

Smoking, alcohol consumption, and an unhealthy diet are linked to an increased chance of developing dementia.

Additionally, people who experience traumatic brain injuries or live in polluted areas are more likely to develop the disease.

It is important to be aware of these lifestyle risks and take steps to reduce them, if possible.

Finally, certain medications may also heighten the risk of developing dementia.

Some long-term use medications, such as those used to treat depression or high blood pressure, have been linked to an increased chance of developing dementia.

It is important to talk with your doctor about any medications you are taking and ask if they may contribute to your risk.

Finally, it is important to recognize that while there is no cure for dementia, there are treatments available that can help manage symptoms.

These treatments may include medications and therapies that focus on improving communication, building coping skills, and slowing the progression of the disease.

While these treatments may not be able to completely stop the progress of dementia, they can often help improve quality of life for those experiencing it.

Hire A Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist For Your Dementia Friendly Home Design

A certified aging in place specialist (CAPS) is a professional who has been specifically trained to help older adults age in place safely and comfortably.

CAPS-certified professionals have the skills and knowledge to assess the unique needs of seniors and make recommendations for products and services that can help them live independently.

They also have a network of resources and contacts that they can connect seniors with, if needed.

If you or a loved one is interested in aging in place, working with a CAPS-certified professional can help ensure that your home is safe and comfortable, and that you have the resources and support you need to age independently.

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