One of the most important things to do when someone is diagnosed with dementia is to adapt their environment to their new needs. We may think that a better choice would be to transfer them to a special facility where they could be taken care for, but what we sometimes forget is that they would feel more comfortable in their own home. The solution is, then, to make the appropriate arrangements in their house
Start with the minimum
When a person is diagnosed with dementia, it is better not the remodel their home altogether, but instead, make the right arrangements to keep them safe and secure. Their home has to remain essentially the same, but include few changes that go unnoticed and do a lot.
Design with endurance and to last long
People with dementia can become emotionally unstable and sometimes react in unexpected ways that could harm them and damage objects around them. It is important that these objects are soft enough not to hurt anyone but also durable enough to be hard to break. Protective surfaces and impact resistant walls are features that could be included in any home.
Kitchens have to be safe and fun
The kitchen is one of the most important spaces of a house. The phrase “the kitchen is the heart of every home” is commonly heard in any country, and it speaks the truth. The kitchen is a space that allows people to share special moments while cooking, which can be a therapeutic activity. It can be a place for therapy and for creating homelike atmospheres that bring positive impacts on a patient’s brain.
A well-adapted kitchen for people with dementia has to be open to moving around comfortably. It has to have many places to sit comfortably, tools that should not be touched must be placed out of reach, and home appliances have to be easy to use.
Bathrooms have to provide independence
Bathrooms have to provide support and let them feel more independent. Since these are very private places, it might be possible that they don’t feel comfortable with someone assisting, so it would be better to accommodate the bathroom in a way that they could clean up on their own.
Showers cubicles have to be easy to get in and always have grab rails. They could also include additional lighting. The bathroom can feature a mirror, but it is important to consider a way of covering it or hiding to avoid a person with dementia who no longer recognizes their reflection to be confused and distressed.
Include assistive technology
Assistive technology is always helpful in any home. Wheelchairs and scooters can help taking a person from one place to another without much effort. Sensors and alarms can help to keep track of water, gas, lighting, and temperature of the house. Or even smaller things such as medication dispensers with alarms can help a person remember when to take medicine.
If you want to learn more and find amazing tips about home designing for people with dementia, don’t forget to buy the book “10 Helpful hints for dementia design at home” by the Dementia Services Development Centre.