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Creating a Dementia-Friendly Home: Practical DIY Changes

Views: 0     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-09-01      Origin: Site

Creating a Dementia-Friendly Home: Practical DIY Changes

Are you caregiving for a loved one with dementia? Does your loved one share a residence with you? If you answered yes to both of these questions, you most likely worry about your loved one’s safety, especially when he or she is alone at home. You may even feel as though you can never leave your loved one unsupervised, which is a difficult task to balance in the throes of busy, everyday life. I am interested in providing solutions to enable individuals to remain living in their homes as they age for as long as possible.


Occupational therapists are well-suited to recommend home modifications given their knowledge and skills to determine the role the environment plays in an individual’s ability to perform important daily activities such as self-care and tasks around the house. Consideration of household safety is key in order to support independent living in this particular population of older adults. Fortunately, there are several creative and affordable strategies available to keep your loved one with dementia safe as well as more independent in the home.


Strategy # 1: Contrasting Colors


A simple home modification which can be done virtually anywhere to assist the individual with dementia is incorporating contrasting colors to identify household items against their background with greater ease. For instance, caregivers could consider changing the following within the loved one’s home:


- Change the light switch plate to a bold color which will sharply contrast against the current color of the wall to highlight its location.

- Boldly paint hand rails, for example red, to better indicate their location near staircases and promote the loved one with dementia to actually use the rail for support while ascending or descending.

- Select contrasting dishware colors to help the individual during meal time.

- Paint grab bars in the bathroom to sharply contrast against the bathtub or shower as well as the color of the wall near the toilet.


Strategy #2: Memory Aids


Another simple modification for caregivers to consider is labeling household items with pictures to serve as helpful memory aids. An example could be labeling the cupboard doors or dresser drawers with pictures of the items kept inside. Depending on the severity of the loved one’s condition, picture aids can also be incorporated in frequently used rooms. For instance, picture aids in the bathroom can serve as detailed reminders of an activity’s sequence such as handwashing. Memory aids can also include several strategically located message boards around the home such as erasable, white boards. Message boards can depict the loved one with dementia’s schedule, the caregiver’s schedule as well as pertinent contact and emergency information.


In addition, caregivers can ensure the living space is uncluttered and well-lit which is practical for all homes and residents. Clutter can be very overwhelming for individuals with dementia so try to pare down and simplify the surroundings. All of these suggestions can be done on a low budget without professional assistance so it truly is a DIY project for a rainy afternoon.


Home modifications can make a significant difference in the lives of older adults with dementia as these solutions promote aging in place, or in one’s home, rather than placement in a long-term care facility. Caregivers can find comfort in knowing their loved ones are better able to safely navigate and perform tasks around the home as well as experience less confusion and frustration throughout the day.


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