How To Make Your Home Dementia Friendly

Dementia friendly home

How to make your home dementia friendly

According to the Alzheimer’s Society there are more than 920,000 people living with dementia in the UK. This number is expected to rise to over one million by 2024. Over 880,000 of these people are aged 65 and over. With the increasing prevalence of dementia in our society, we need to find new ways to help and support those living with the condition, as well as their families.

For those living with dementia being cared for at home, in familiar surroundings brings much comfort and reassurance. Being cared for in your own home positively impacts a person’s health, well-being and quality of life.

By adapting the environment to make a dementia friendly home means a person can stay at home for longer and avoid the move into a care home. A move into a care home can be very distressing and traumatic for those living with dementia. Dementia home adaptations also reduce stress for the family carer by making the task of caring easier.

Here we explore all the ways in which you can make the home safer and more secure for your loved one. We also explain the small practical changes you can make that mean they can live happily at home with dignity and independence.

How dementia home adaptations can benefit you and your loved one

If you are caring for a loved one with dementia, you will need to think about ways you can reduce some of the challenges of living at home with dementia.  There are many ways in which you can adapt the home environment to make it safer for your loved one.  These changes will also make day-to-day tasks easier.  This will promote self-esteem, build confidence and enhance emotional well-being.  In turn, this will reduce behaviours that challenge.

We know through our experience of providing dementia care how challenging it can be at times for family carers.  By making the right home adaptations, it will make life easier for you and alleviate any stress from helping your loved one to live well in their own home.  They will benefit from greater levels of independence, which will reduce the amount of care and support they need from you.

Living well with dementia at home

There are many ways in which dementia affects an individual and how their environment impacts this:

  • Memory problems – this may mean they forget how to use certain household appliances
  • Reduced capacity and functionality – this includes having a sense of time and place, which can result in finding it hard to recognise areas in the home
  • Problems with mobility, balance and motor skills that impact their ability to move around the home
  • Changes in senses (sight and sound) and perception of things like temperature and depth, which can cause significant safety issues in the home

Everyone’s experience of dementia is unique to them.  For some changes in health and cognitive function happen quickly.  Whilst for others the journey is much slower.  It is important to be flexible to the changes your loved one is experiencing and be proactive in adapting their home accordingly.

Living well with dementia at home

There are many ways in which dementia affects an individual and how their environment impacts this:

  • Memory problems – this may mean they forget how to use certain household appliances
  • Reduced capacity and functionality – this includes having a sense of time and place, which can result in finding it hard to recognise areas in the home
  • Problems with mobility, balance and motor skills that impact their ability to move around the home
  • Changes in senses (sight and sound) and perception of things like temperature and depth, which can cause significant safety issues in the home

Everyone’s experience of dementia is unique to them.  For some changes in health and cognitive function happen quickly.  Whilst for others the journey is much slower.  It is important to be flexible to the changes your loved one is experiencing and be proactive in adapting their home accordingly.

How to identify what adaptations are needed

It is important when you are considering making adaptations to your loved one’s home that their wishes are considered. Making changes that drastically change their environment by making it too restrictive could also have a negative impact. The home should remain both comfortable and familiar. Familiarity and routine are critical for a person living with dementia. Involve your loved one in the decisions as much as possible and find solutions together.

It is advisable to take a proactive approach to making adaptations based on your assessment of your loved one’s care and support needs. Observe them completing day-to-day tasks and take their lead as to what would make it safer, and what could help them maintain greater levels of independence. Complete your own assessment of the risks that may be present in the home. For example, clutter that is getting in the way of clear routes through the home or rugs that present a risk of falling. Then make necessary changes slowly so as not to alarm your loved one. A preventative approach can avoid an emergency when safety measures may have to be put in place quickly.

Any changes to your loved one’s home should promote social interaction and independence. They should also allow your loved one to continue to enjoy meaningful activities that enrich their life. Any thing that restricts this needs careful consideration.

Ways to create a dementia friendly home

There are numerous ways in which you can make every room in their home dementia friendly. It is worth noting that if you are considering decorating any rooms in their home that you avoid highly patterned materials. These are visually confusing to someone living with dementia. Keep the tone of floor coverings between rooms simple to avoid problems with balance and confusion. Depending on how dementia is affecting a person, it may be worth labelling rooms with signs to help them to identify which rooms are which.

Dementia friendly living room

This is the main room in the home and should be a safe place of comfort and relaxation.  Here is how you can make a dementia-friendly living room:

  • Remove any trip hazards – this includes trailing wires, clutter and rugs
  • Avoid glass furniture – glass can be harder to see and may cause visual problems that could affect balance
  • Place familiar belongings around the room – this brings comfort and reassurance especially if other changes are taking place
  • Move photographs onto the walls – taking away as much surface clutter is recommended
  • Label draws with signs to help with identification

Dementia friendly hall

Hallways and staircases can cause real issues for those living with dementia given their size and the potential risk of falls.   However, there are some simple steps you can take:

  • Mark the edge of each step on the stairs – this will help them to judge their depth and avoid an unnecessary fall
  • Remove rugs and mats at the bottom of stairs and on landings – they present an unnecessary trip hazard
  • Add family photographs of fond memories from your loved one’s past
  • Avoid the use of patterned wallpaper in the hallway or stairwell – this can cause confusion to someone living with dementia

Dementia friendly kitchen

Kitchens can present confusion to those living with dementia, but a few simple adaptions can make it a safe and meaningful environment:

  • Label cupboards and draws – this will help you loved one to remain as independent as possible as helps with identification
  • Replace stainless steel appliances with plastic ones – by using plastic kettles or toasters you can reduce the risk of scalding
  • Install a cooker shut-off mechanism – this will avoid accidentally leaving the cooker on after using it.  Most new cookers have this fitted as standard
  • Fit a gas detector – this will raise an alarm if the gas hob is left on by mistake
  • Declutter the kitchen as much as possible and remove items that are rarely or never used
  • Store items away safely – harmful substances such as cleaning products should be stored out of reach. Knives and sharp utensils should also be kept somewhere safe
  • Keep appliances unplugged when not in use
  • Use bright coloured bowels and plates

Dementia friendly bathroom

There are several things you can do to adapt your bathroom to make it safer for your loved one:

  • Install a flood prevention plug – this will automatically let water out of the bath if it becomes to full
  • Contrasting colours and tones can be useful to identify items, such as grab rails or a toilet seat
  • Ensure medicines are stored away safely and any unused or out of date medications are disposed of safely
  • Specialist adaptations – if might be worth considering adapting a shower to a walk-in to make it easier for your loved one to shower independently
  • Ensure taps are easy to use – modern mixer taps can be confusing to those living with dementia.  Separate hot and cold taps are advisable

Dementia friendly bedroom

Some simple adaptations in the bedroom can make it a safer environment for your loved one:

  • Install a night light – by having a night light near the bed means you can navigate your way around the room if you need to get up in the night.  Installing a motion centre light could be considered
  • Use bedding that is contrasting in colour – use different colours to the rest of the room so that the bed is easily identifiable
  • Install pressure sensors in the bed or beside the bed – an alert system could be installed that notified you directly if your loved one was out of bed during the night for too long

Other ways to make your home dementia friendly

Below are some other useful hints and tips to make your loved one’s home environment more dementia friendly.  These simple steps can help them maintain independence and improve quality of life:

  • Be aware of mirrors that can be distressing for those living with dementia and can affect their mood
  • Watch appropriate television programmes.  Programmes that are positive like game shows or travel shows are better than watching the news.  This can make a person with dementia fearful or upset
  • Use dementia friendly games or music for dementia to keep your loved one stimulated
  • Use safety features, like stairgates and stairlifts to prevent falls in the home
  • Relocate items of furniture or get rid of them altogether to reduce hazards
  • Adequate lighting is really important for those living with dementia.  They need to be able to clearly see where they are going.  Shadows and dark patches can cause distress
  • Disengage the doorbell to stop your loved one becoming startled or shocked
  • Using a stop sign on the back of a front or back door may prevent your loved one from wandering outside the house
  • Use a whiteboard or post-it-notes around the home to remind your loved one about appointments, visitors coming round, or things they need to do
  • Ensure all heat detectors, smoke alarms and gas detectors are fitted correctly and operational
  • Turn down the hot water thermostat to avoid your loved one scalding themselves
  • Ensure curtains are open and lighting natural in all rooms throughout the day.  This will help your loved one keep track of night and day

Dementia assistive technology

Assistive technology is devices or systems that help a person to maintain independence by supporting them to complete day-to-day tasks.  They can support a person who is living with dementia to live well with dementia.  Assistive technology can help with:

  • Supporting memory
  • Planning tasks
  • Communication, including speech and hearing
  • Mobility
  • Being safe both inside and outside the home
  • Maintaining independence and
  • Maintaining self-confidence
  • Socialisation

Examples of technologies include:

  • Electronic medication reminder devices
  • Fall sensors
  • Pressure sensors that alert families if someone is out of bed
  • Electronic plugs that prevent flooding
  • Telecoms devices, like mobiles and fixed telephones that have large displays and functional buttons
  • iPad with social apps can aid socialisation by connecting families.  They can also be used to play dementia games
  • Clocks specifically designed for those with dementia help them to distinguish between night and day

Dementia assistive technology

Assistive technology is devices or systems that help a person to maintain independence by supporting them to complete day-to-day tasks.  They can support a person who is living with dementia to live well with dementia.  Assistive technology can help with:

  • Supporting memory
  • Planning tasks
  • Communication, including speech and hearing
  • Mobility
  • Being safe both inside and outside the home
  • Maintaining independence and
  • Maintaining self-confidence
  • Socialisation

Examples of technologies include:

  • Electronic medication reminder devices
  • Fall sensors
  • Pressure sensors that alert families if someone is out of bed
  • Electronic plugs that prevent flooding
  • Telecoms devices, like mobiles and fixed telephones that have large displays and functional buttons
  • iPad with social apps can aid socialisation by connecting families.  They can also be used to play dementia games
  • Clocks specifically designed for those with dementia help them to distinguish between night and day

How occupational therapy led care can help

At The Good Care Group, we have been helping those living with dementia and their families for over 10 years. We have a dedicated in-house Occupational Therapist (OT) who works with our clients and their families. They will conduct a comprehensive assessment of your loved one’s needs and then provide advice on equipment, including assistive technologies that will enable them to live safely at home with as much independence as possible. Our OT will also make recommendations regarding home adaptations that make a home dementia friendly.

Why choose The Good Care Group for high quality dementia care at home?

We have been helping those living with dementia and their families for over 10 years. Our award-winning live-in care service is delivered by professional carers. Our carers are trained in how to care for someone living with dementia. They use a range of best practice techniques, including music therapy proven to provide reassurance, reduce anxiety and calm behaviours. We can reduce the need to use anti-psychotic drugs.

High-quality dementia care at home

We work with leading medical experts, academic bodies and leading charities.  This ensures our care is of the very highest standards.  Our work with the Contented Dementia Trust has seen us introduce the SPECAL approach to dementia care at home.  This approach enables us to understand and discover what is important to the person living with dementia.  We then develop a purposeful and meaningful programme of care.  This programme positively improves overall health and well-being.  With our own in-house Admiral Nurse we are able to provide practical and emotional support to the dementia patient and their family.

In-depth dementia care planning

We ensure the care team that looks after your loved one is perfectly matched.  They will be skilled and equipped to meet all your loved one’s dementia care needs.  Our in-depth care planning process will ensure all your loved one’s needs are met.  This process means we understand their preferences, choices and how they wish to lead their life, as well as their care needs.

Highest service rating from care regulators in England and Scotland

Unlike introduction agencies we are fully regulated in England and Scotland.

This means the care and support we provide is regularly inspected.  We are the only dedicated live-in care provider in England to achieve an ‘Outstanding’ rating by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).  We have achieved this rating in all five measures – safe, effective, caring responsive and well-led.  In Scotland, our service has been inspected by the Care Inspectorate (CI).  It has achieved the highest rating of a 6 (Excellent) for quality of care and support and 5 (very good) for staffing, management and leadership.  We know this provides families with peace of mind that their loved one is receiving the best possible dementia care.

A fully managed service

Families benefit from our fully managed service delivered by care experts.  This means you do not need to worry about supervising and managing the carer yourself.  Our professional carers are supervised by an experienced care manager.  We provide this support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.    With our service, families do not have the burden of managing the care arrangement themselves.  This gives families can have peace of mind, whilst enjoying quality time with their loved one. They do not have to worry about the tasks of caring.

Caring for your much-loved pet

Carers will happily support looking after your pet, including taking dogs for regular walks.

Arranging dementia care at home

Once you have decided care at home is right for you and your loved one – we are here to help. We will conduct a comprehensive assessment of your loved one’s needs. This covers not just their care needs, but how they wish to live their life. The assessment informs the care plan which will be created by an expert care manager, guided by clinical experts. The plan of care guides our professional care team to deliver the highest quality dementia care to your loved one, which includes music therapy if you wish.

Talk to us about your dementia care needs

Our friendly and experienced team is here to help you and your family make sense of the options available to you. Call us today – we will help you every step of the way.


020 3728 7577

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