Some quick home fixes for people with dementia

Some helpful changes in the home for people living with dementia.

Making small changes around the home can help keep your loved one safe and independent.
When someone you love is living with dementia, it’s likely that you’ll need to make some changes around their home. This helps make life safer for them, as well as helping them to stay independent for as long as possible.

Small changes

Making small adjustments around the home is generally the best approach.

“While you may want to renovate the house, that’s probably not a great idea for someone living with dementia,” explains Margaret Ryan, Bupa’s Head of Dementia. “They use long-term memories to get themselves around, and trying to keep things familiar at home is important.”

Making small adjustments around the home is generally the best approach.

Kitchen safety

The kitchen has many risks.

“Common hazards are things like putting something in the oven and forgetting it’s there,” says Ryan. “There are adaptions and safety switches that can be added to appliances.”

Conduct a review of electrical items such as the kettle and iron, cooking equipment such as the stove and oven, and smaller appliances, and look out for dangers such as frayed cords.

Gas appliances should be checked for any required safety adjustments, too. 

You should seek guidance from a licensed electrician, plumber or gas fitter about making any changes to electrical or gas fittings or appliances.

Lighting and colours can have a big impact

Sometimes what we think are small things can make a big difference. Clear lighting, for example, can make home life much easier.

“For someone with dementia, distinguishing between things can become difficult, depending on what part of the brain the dementia is affecting,” Ryan says.

It’s also important to take notice of the colours around the home, too.

“If you want the person to use something or take notice of something, having things in contrasting colours can help so it stands out.”

Man fixing a light

Flooring adjustments

Keep flooring as simple as possible to help avoid confusion and stress.

For example, “Carpets with complex patterns can be distressing for someone with visual disturbances,” Ryan says.

“Flooring that’s very shiny can look like water, while dark borders around floor surfaces can be perceived as something that needs to be stepped over. That can cause distress.”

Bathroom considerations

Bathroom adjustments need to be focused on safety.

Ryan explains, “Hot water is the biggest concern, and plumbers can install thermostat controls to maximise the temperature.”

Other ideas around bathroom safety include avoiding tripping hazards such as bath mats, ensuring surfaces aren’t slippery, installing grip rails around toilets and showers, and buying a shower chair.

Everyone's different

Everyone’s experience with dementia is different, so adjustments around the home should be tailored to the things your loved one finds difficult. Speak with their medical team for advice on their specific condition, and consider having an occupational therapist review the home.
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