Adapting living environments for people with dementia
It’s important to create safe and supportive environments where people living with dementia can live comfortably, maintain their independence and not feel restricted in any way.
People with dementia can get confused in their environment, so it’s a good idea to make everything easily recognisable. Colour contrasts are often a quick and effective way of helping surroundings to stand out - for example, try painting handrails, doors and furniture in different colours.
Surrounding a person with photos or images that trigger some of their favourite memories may also be helpful. Many of Anchor’s care homes have reminiscence rooms that are decorated to replicate past eras, such as the 1950s, with relevant artefacts, such as radios and TVs. Others hold reminiscence therapy sessions, which can help residents to relax, feel safe and connect with their carer.
Access to outside space is also important as it provides the opportunity for exercise, fresh air, relieves tension and anxiety and offers personal space for reflection and privacy. Spending time outside in a garden has been shown to positively affect a person’s emotions and to improve their sense of well-being. To make outside space more accessible to someone living with dementia, try to create paths and areas that are circular so that people going for walks will return to a familiar entrance rather than reaching a dead end in the path which will be confusing to them.
At Anchor’s specialist dementia care home West Hall, in West Byfleet a range of techniques have been included in the design of the home to help residents familiarise themselves with their surroundings. Residents are able to fill memory boxes built into the wall outside their bedroom with personal items, such as family pictures, to help them recognise their room. Similarly, at Anchor’s Godiva Loge care home in Coventry, residents have framed photos on their bedroom doors to help them with recognition.
Other adaptations in our care homes include the use of uniquely patterned tactile sensory panels by important doors, distinct colour schemes in different areas of the care home and pictorial signs to enable residents to orientate themselves. At West Hall transparent panelled cupboards and drawers are used in some of the bedrooms to help people living with dementia identify where their personal belongings are kept.
There are also lots of products available that can help a person living with dementia. For example, some people may appreciate clocks with larger faces or a notice board to help with their memory. Pill boxes with a compartment for every day of the week can help those taking medicines, and safety systems like gas detectors can add peace of mind. Mobility aids and products to help with independent living like kettle tippers and other adapted kitchen tools can help people continue participating in household activities such as cooking and cleaning, making a huge difference to their confidence enabling them to live in their own home for longer.
Anchor's care homes offer dementia care in safe, supportive, specially adapted environments that maximise a person’s independence and enhance their self-esteem. Find out more about our dementia care.
Read our full guide to supporting a loved one with dementia and find out about our approach to dementia care.