Making Your Home Dementia Friendly

Dementia friendly home

Living in your own home gives everyone more independence and if your loved one has dementia this is definitely something you would like them to do for as long as possible. Making your home dementia friendly will bring bonuses and these include the fact that you will both be able to continue with your usual routine and shared activities plus family and friends can drop in and say ‘hello’ whenever.

Modifying your home will help make it physically safe for your loved one and also more mentally stimulating. Importantly, the changes will help minimize their feelings of anxiety and frustration.

Making Your Home Dementia Friendly

making your home dementia friendly guide

Why you need to make your home dementia friendly?

The Age UK website explains why it is essential to make some changes to your home when your loved one has dementia-

Dementia can affect a person’s memory and ability to coordinate, recognize objects, and interpret their environment. In addition, they may have other health conditions which can affect their sight, mobility, and independence. This can have a significant impact on the person’s daily life including how they function within their own home. However, with some simple adjustments you can make a home easier to manage and more ‘dementia friendly’

Before you begin adapting your home to make it dementia friendly, it is best to discuss ideas with your doctor and other health professionals who care for your loved one, as each person with dementia is different, with different needs and challenges.

Here is our list of 8 points for consideration: –

1. Make mobility easy

make your home dementia friendly

It is important that your loved one can navigate around your home easily, especially if they have mobility issues and are using a walking frame.

When making your home dementia friendly, it is important to check the layout of your furniture to ensure that it is as straightforward as possible. Less is definitely more, and it is important to have wide clear spaces leading to the bathroom, bedroom and kitchen.

  • Remove all rugs as they will be a trip hazard
  • Patterns and colors can be confusing so best to keep patterns to a minimum and ensure that the color of your floors contrasts with that of the walls.
  • Make your stairs save by painting the handrail a strong contrasting color and outlining the edges of each stair with the same color.
  • If you are making changes to your floor colors with a pot of paint, choose colors that cannot be mistaken for anything else- black could look like a hole and blue could be mistaken for water etc.
  • Matt flooring is best as a person with dementia can easily think that a shiny floor is wet and dangerous.
  • Ensure all flexes are firmly fixed so that they are not a trip hazard.
  • Some people with dementia find mirrors disorientating and even upsetting if they do not recognize themselves, so it is best to check their positioning.

2. Making your home dementia friendly by streamlining your home

  • Minimize the number of modern gadgets you use as they can be confusing.
  • Minimize soft furnishings including cushions and throws.
  • Allocate one drawer for all important items such as car keys, glasses.
  • Stick picture labels on the important drawers and cupboards to help your loved one find things. Always stick them a little lower than normal as dementia patients tend to look downwards.
  • Lock all hazardous items away.
  • Keep the doors between all rooms open and stick a picture label on each door in case your loved one feels disorientated.

3. In the kitchen/ dining area

Kitchen for dementia

  • Make sure that all frequently used items are easy to locate such as using brightly colored tea towels and hand towels.
  • Check that all appliances are as safe as possible using sensors and safety timers.
  • Use plastic wherever possible for storage in the kitchen.
  • Patterned plates can be confusing so plain ones are far better to use and white is ideal as the food will be easy to see.
  • Keep table settings as simple as possible with plain colored place mats or tablecloth.
  • Limit distractions at mealtimes such as the television.

4. In the bathroom

bathroom design for dementia

  • Pin a drawing on the door that clearly shows that it is the bathroom/ toilet. If you have a separate toilet, do the same on the door.
  • Remove the door lock and replace with a hanging two-sided card – one side red and the other, green which can be easily flipped over.
  • Make sure all personal hygiene products are easily accessible.
  • Place all medication in a locked cabinet.
  • Make sure hot and cold taps are clearly marked.
  • Install grab rails for your bath or shower.
  • Make sure the non-slip bathmat is in a contrasting color along with the shower curtain and toilet seat for easy recognition.
  • Make sure that the roll of toilet paper is within easy reach from the toilet seat.
  • Clearly mark the toilet flush so that it can be easily located.

5. In the bedroom

  • The path from the bed to the toilet should be easy to negotiate at any time of day or night.
  • Invest in some night lights to lead the way to the toilet.
  • Choose a plain contrasting color for bed linen so that the bed is easy to find.
  • Install touch bedside lamps as they are easier to use.

6. Lighting

lighting suitable for dementia patientsLighting is very important for someone with dementia as it helps to define the day from the night, and this helps to relieve their anxiety as dusk falls.

This is a well-known problem and is called ‘late day confusion’ and can cause confusion and agitation. It is triggered by the changing amount of daylight.

Using lights with dimmer switches in your dementia friendly home will mean that you can make the transition from day to evening much more gently and this will help your loved one.

  • Ensure that all your windows are clean and that they let in the maximum amount of natural daylight.
  • Always close curtains at night.
  • Guide the way to the toilet and on the stairs using additional lighting or automatic light sensors.
  • Make sure all light switches are easily accessible and that they are obvious as they are painted in a contrasting color.

7. Family and friends

making your home dementia friendlyIt is important to keep your loved one engaged, but they may well need help to remember faces and names.

  • Keep a large calendar with all your appointments and family plans written on it.
  • Invest in a large digital clock which gives the day, date and time plus states whether it is ‘am or ‘pm’.
  • Make sure your telephone is easy to use with large buttons. Add family telephone numbers into the phone’s directory. Make a large poster with the person’s name, photograph and number on the autodial.
  • Keep plenty of photographs around and pin captions on the frames explaining the occasion and the date.
  • Pin a list of emergency telephone numbers on the wall by the telephone.

8. Out in the garden

Your loved one will definitely benefit from spending time outside in the fresh air and if they enjoy gardening, this is an ideal activity for them to continue.

  • Ensure all pathways and lawns are flat to avoid falls.
  • Make sure the garden is secure so that there is no chance for them to wander.
  • If your loved one has mobility difficulties but loves gardening, consider having a flower bed raised for them to enjoy.
  • Create a nice sheltered outside sitting area so that you can spend more time outside together.
  • If you are planning to use the garden in the evening, is the lighting adequate?

Keep reviewing the situation

bedroom for dementiaAs your loved one’s dementia progresses, it is important to keep reviewing how safe your home is and whether any further adjustments need to be made.

Keeping an eye on your loved one’s general health is important. Have their eyes and hearing regularly tested and ensure that they wear good fitting shoes – even indoors as this helps reduce the chance of falls.

Regular podiatry appointments will help keep their feet in good condition too. Try and keep them as active as possible and certainly ensure they do some appropriate exercises every day.

These should include getting up from their favorite chair and sitting down in it and also getting in and out of bed as safely as possible.

Final thoughts – Making your home dementia friendly

Making your home dementia friendly will certainly be a challenge but is something well worth doing as it will ensure that your loved one enjoys the best quality of life – at home with you….

An excellent free fact sheet on making your home dementia friendly is available online from
the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK.

Making Dementia-Friendly Home Is Easy

dementia-friendly home

There are several ways to adapt or create a dementia-friendly home so that the person who has the illness can remain safe and independent in the comfort of the home for the longest possible time.

Before making any modifications, it is important to first assess the home while considering the needs of the person with dementia.

This will help you create a space that will help the individual thrive.

How to Make Your Home Dementia-Friendly

Here are some tips you can work with if you intend to create a comfortable space for an individual with dementia.

Work on the Lighting

 lighting for a dementia-friendly home
Good lighting is important for any person who has a neurodegenerative disease. It helps them see clearly and can help to reduce the risks of falls and confusion.

Where possible, ensure that there is enough natural light getting into the house during the day. Get rid of things that block the light from passing through windows.

Light switches need to accessible and easy to use. You can even install automatic light sensors so that when a person passes the sensor, the lights will automatically come on.

At night, the area where the person sleeps should also have enough darkness to help them sleep.

Changing Color Schemes

changing color schemes
Making the rooms brighter is one of the changes you can make to create a dementia-friendly home.

It is especially important as dementia progresses because ill persons find it more challenging to interpret what they see.

Strong contrasts are essential so that some things can stand out.

Some of the changes you can make include:

    • Contrasting colors for banisters and doors
    • Toilet seat should have a bold color that separates it from the rest of the room
    • Furnishings and furniture should be bright and contrast with the floors and walls
    • Use crockery that is in contrasting colors to the table or placement mat to help define the edges of dishes and plates

As you use contrasting colors, be sure to avoid many patterns because these can make things harder to see enhancing confusion.

For some people, clashing patterns can lead to too much visual stimulation which results in agitation.

Ensure Flooring is Safe

ensure flooring is safe
Get rid of anything that can make the person with dementia trip, such as mats or rugs. Trip hazards like cables should also be kept out of sight.

You can install plain matt flooring to make certain that the person with dementia can clearly see the flooring.

It is also best to avoid floors that are too shiny or reflective because someone may perceive these as wet making it challenging for a person with dementia to walk over.

The floors should also not have similar colors to the walls because this might end up intensifying confusion.

Avoid using blue or green on the floor because someone might mistake these for real things such as water or grass respectively.

Getting Rid Of Excessive Noise

getting rid of excessive noise
Reducing unnecessary noise is a great step towards making a dementia-friendly home. Curtains, carpets, and cushions can help to absorb background noise.

You can turn off the radio or TV when no one is listening or watching.

It also helps to get rid of vinyl or laminate floors especially in the case where the person with dementia is using a hearing aid.

Simply walking across these floors makes the sounds stronger what can make the person uncomfortable.

Invest in Signs and Labels

invest in signs and labels
These are essential when you want to create a dementia-friendly home because they can help the person with the illness get around with ease.

Place the signs and labels on doors and cupboards.

For instance, you can put up a toilet or bathroom sign on their respective doors. Only use signs and labels that are clear and have appropriate pictures and text.

You should also place these in a slightly lower position because seniors often look downwards. Placing photos on cupboards explaining the contents might also be helpful.

For example, you can place a photo of a plate in a cupboard that stores plates. Then again, you can always use see-through cupboard doors so that the person with the illness can easily see what is inside.

Get Rid of Clutter

get rid of clutter
A cluttered home is a recipe for disaster when dealing with a person who has dementia.

Get rid of any type of clutter so that the person can move around with ease.

While doing this, you should also make sure that you place the items that the person with dementia uses at places where they can easily see.

This will help seniors get the stuff they need easily.

Remove or Cover-Up Mirrors

remove or cover up mirrors
At some point, it can be distressing when a person with dementia looks up and they cannot identify themselves. This is why you should remove or cover up mirrors that can cause confusion.

It also helps to close the curtains early when the evening is approaching so that the elderly persons do not catch their reflections in the window glasses

Take Advantage of Tech Solutions

take advantage of tech solutions for a dementia friendly home
Advancements in technology have made it a lot easier to create a dementia-friendly home.

You can find solutions that are helpful in addressing needs like social interactions, wayfinding, health management, and memory support.

Examples of these include unique plus that can prevent flooding, sensors that detect when someone wanders or falls, to assistive technology that can offer reminders for taking medicine.

You can also use products that have been designed specifically for persons with dementia.

These can include stuff like telephones that have big buttons and clocks with huge LCD displays that also show the date and day clearly.

There are multiple tech solutions, even social robots, you can work with.

All you have to do is identify the ones you can afford and will deliver the much-needed assistance.

Suggested Products to Assist with Having a Dementia-friendly Home

ProductFeaturesAvailable on Amazon
Medication Pill ReminderPersistence Health Medication Tracker & Pill ReminderSimple visual
Family visual
Changable labels
Big Digital Calendar Clock, Large Number Display for Seniors with DementiaBig Digital Calendar Clock, Large Number Display for Seniors with DementiaExtra large display
Sun/moon icons
4 pill alarms
Sleep/awake alarms
Auto dimmer
Talking Large Button Alarm ClockTalking Large Button Alarm Clock - Telling Time and Date for Elderly, Impaired SightLarge high contrast
Speaking clock
Male US English voice
Toilet warning sign for dementia patientsToilet Dementia Warning Sign 12x8 Aluminum SignEasy to install
Pre-drilled holes
Large LabelsNiHome Large Labels 100PCS with Marker, for labelling dementia care home. Blank Customizable Label StickersHeavy-duty
6"X 4"
Resistant to water, oil & tear
Compatible with thermal printer
Marker pen inc

Closing Thoughts

Creating a dementia-friendly home can have a huge impact on the person with the disease.

It helps them live more comfortably and safely with in-house care delaying the need to move into an assisted living facility when they do not want to.

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