Dementia Friendly Home Modifications
Did you know that the living space design can actually help someone with dementia function at a higher and more comfortable level? Senior living apartments containing certain thoughtful design elements and up-to-date technology can make someone who struggles to function at home live more safely and confidently.
If you would like help finding a professional to work with you in designing your parent’s home, we can help. Oasis Senior Advisors have resources that we can share and information that can help guide you to a reasonable range of options given your needs and budget. Feel free to call us at 475.619.4123 or 914.356.1901 or reach out to us using our online form.
What Is a Dementia Friendly Apartment?
A living space that is user-friendly for someone with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia compensates for cognitive and physical deficits. There are some simple modifications and consideration that can make any living space safer for those living with dementia. If you don’t wish to completely redesign the living space, you can still make small but meaningful changes that will enhance your loved one’s quality of life and reduce your anxiety about their safety and well-being.
Color and Function
Everything from depth perception and tremors to emotional disorientation can get in the way of the daily life of someone living with dementia. Below are some great tips for using color and various design options to make things easier for mom or dad.
- Color choice. Dementia effects depth perception so contrasting colors aid in the visibility of objects and the separation of areas within the living space – like an accent wall behind the white porcelain of a toilet. It’s also a good idea to select soothing colors, like blue or soft gray rather than colors that might agitate like orange or red.
- Floors. A non-glare, non-slip finish on a dark color helps reduce glare and helps with depth perception. This is useful in any room, but especially in the bathroom, where the space is small, and the flooring can become wet. Avoid dark rugs, they can look like a hole in the floor to someone living with dementia.
- Functional bathroom elements. It is much easier to manage bathing with hand-held showerheads that have simple on and off buttons rather than dials that modulate temperature and flow. Be sure the shower bench or chair is in contrasting colors, so it is easy to see.
- Dining assists. Many people with dementia also struggle with tremors. Flatware that is weighted can make gripping and using it easier.
- Doors. Door knobs can be very challenging. Avoid oval or round knobs in favor of lever door handles that can be activated with a simple downward push.
There is smart technology being developed all the time to support both caregivers and those living with dementia. Some devices are complex and cost a lot; others are relatively easy fixes to common issues.
- Devices to unlock and lock exits, control lighting, and thermostats, and provide reminders to take medication, eat, and more. These often come with apps for the phone, so control can be in the hands of adult children or caregivers who are not on-site 24/7.
- Motion sensors alert caregivers when someone is sleepwalking or wandering off. Specific sensors can also be programmed to notify you when doors, windows, or cupboards are opened.
- Smart refrigerators can do everything from communicating medication schedules to offering remote views of the interior so you can see if your loved one has eaten or whether it’s time to restock.
- Smart stoves come with temperature-controlled burners to prevent fires and automated, baking-soda-dispensing fire extinguishers.
Other Helpful Ideas
You want to do everything you can to mitigate your loved one’s frustration and anxiety, increase their well-being, and ensure their safety. As you observe their particular challenges and trigger points, you may develop workarounds that help. Below are a few more ideas.
- In the bedroom, add drawer pulls of different colors and shapes to help with memory. Labels help too.
- Find furniture with rounded edges or soften sharp corners to help your parent avoid injury in case of a stumble or minor collision while navigating the home.
- Consider clothing that allows your loved one to continue to dress independently for as long as possible, for example, without zippers or buttons (some clothes offer magnetic closures).
- Add nightlights near the floor in any area your loved one will navigate after dark, especially from the bed to the bathroom.
- Remember that anything that evokes warm feelings, familiarity, and happy memories can greatly impact your loved one’s peace of mind and well-being. Familiar things—artwork, old photos, a favorite caftan or pillow—can go a long way.
- Add visual reminders in large text wherever frustration may arise—the remote, the phone, the coffee maker, etc.
When You Care About Someone with Dementia
Whether you are ready to redesign your home or are wondering how to help someone adjust to assisted living or memory care, many of the ideas above can be utilized quickly with very few modifications no matter where they live. Knowing that you can take specific steps to ease your parent’s frustration and risks while also easing your fear and anxiety will help you navigate the challenges of loving someone with dementia. Contact Oasis Senior Advisors today if you have any questions about the next steps for your loved one. Call 475.619.4123 or 914.356.1901 or reach out to us using our online form.