Small changes make life easier for seniors with dementia
Everyday tasks are often challenging for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. But small changes at home can have a big impact in making their life easier.
As the disease progresses, your older adult will have increasing difficulty remembering, thinking, processing, and reasoning. The top priority is to keep them safe as well as help them be as independent as possible.
We’ve got 4 ways to create a more dementia friendly home by making it easier to see and recognize commonly used items. These suggestions make everyday tasks easier, boosting confidence and reducing frustration and stress.
4 ways to create a dementia friendly home by making things easier to see
1. Avoid reflective surfaces and keep lighting even
Shiny or reflective surfaces on floors or tabletops can cause confusion because they create glare and shadows.
For floors, stick to bare hardwood or plain carpeting. If floor coverings are needed, use light colored, non-patterned coverings that are well-secured and non-slip.
For shiny tabletops or counters, cover with light-colored mats or tablecloths. Dark colors may seem like holes, so avoid those colors on areas you do want your older adult to use.
Try to make lighting as easy as possible by reducing glare and shadows. Add sheer curtains to mute bright sunlight and use brighter lighting for darker spaces.
2. Add pictures to identify things that aren’t in full view
When someone has memory problems, it can be difficult to remember where things are. That could mean they need to open every cabinet to find a mug, open all the drawers to find a sweater, or not know where the toilet is.
To help someone with dementia find the things they use often, it helps to add large, easy-to-see pictures on the outside of doors or drawers to identify what’s inside.
For example, put a picture of a toilet on the bathroom door, making sure it stands out from the door’s color. On a kitchen cabinet, put a picture of the mug they always use.
Be sure to prioritize which items to label because too many pictures could add to their confusion.
3. Use contrasting colors to highlight important things
Careful use of contrasting color also helps seniors with dementia see things better.
For example, a red plate makes it easier to eat because the plate stands out from a light-colored table or mat and many foods stand out against the red plate. When your older adult can clearly see what they’re eating, they’re better able to eat independently.
Using the toilet can be quite a challenge because most bathrooms have light colored floors, wall, and toilet. That can make it tough for someone with dementia to find the actual toilet and could cause them to accidentally go somewhere else, like a wastebasket or the tub. Changing the toilet seat to a colored one (like this red one) makes it easier to quickly see where to sit.
If your older adult has trouble finding an important room like their bedroom or the bathroom, you could paint that door a contrasting color. Or, personalize their bedroom door with a large photo of themselves. That could also keep them from accidentally wandering into other people’s rooms when looking for their own.
To make it easier to turn on room lights, you may want to change the light switch plates. If the walls are white, get colored switch plates, like this single switch or this double switch. Anything goes as long as the switch stands out clearly from the wall.
4. Make large panes of glass more visible
It can be more difficult for people with dementia to see large panes of glass. That can lead to accidents and injuries.
To make glass more visible, add non-adhesive decals, pictures, or posters on shower doors, patio doors, or picture windows. This can also be a fun way to decorate!