If you have dementia, living at home can help you to stay independent and enjoy the environment you’re used to. But you may need to make a few adjustments.
There are lots of things you can do to help yourself keep safe, active and doing the things you want to do.
Here are our 10 top tips:
1. Make sure you’ve got good lighting.
Check that natural light can get into your house – good lighting helps you see clearly and make sense of where you are. Make sure there’s nothing blocking light from coming in through the window. Also make sure your bedroom is dark enough at night, as this will help you sleep better.
2. Make sure your flooring is safe.
Remove anything that could make you trip up. Get rid of any rugs or mats, and watch out for other trip hazards like cables. Make sure you can see the flooring clearly too – plain matt flooring is best. Avoid having flooring that’s shiny or that’s a similar colour to the walls, as it may confuse you.
3. Make eating and drinking easier.
Eating and drinking well is important for your health. Use plates, cups and tablecloths with colours that contrast with food. Try using clear plastic containers to store your food, so you can see what’s inside.
4. Get furniture you can see clearly.
Dementia may affect how well you can tell the difference between colours. Use bright and contrasting colours to help you see furniture better. Avoid stripes and strong patterns as they can be confusing.
5. Remind yourself where things are.
If you have memory problems you may forget where things are kept. Put pictures or signs on cupboards and drawers so you know what’s inside them. Try to keep things like your keys, wallet and mobile phone in the same place.
Hear how Wendy, who has young-onset Alzheimer’s disease, has adapted her home with helpful signage.
6. Keep things simple in the bathroom.
Put a picture and sign on the door labelling the toilet or bathroom. Consider removing the toilet lid if it makes it easier to identify. It’s also helpful to have towels and toilet rolls with colours that contrast to the walls. Clear away items not used regularly.
7. Keep clutter-free.
Untidiness around the home may make you feel confused and distracted. Get rid of any excess clutter and make sure cupboards and drawers are tidy. Turn off the TV or radio when you’re not watching or listening to them, so the noise isn’t confusing or distracting.
8. Use equipment to keep yourself safe.
Use grab rails to hold onto and prevent yourself from falling. Installing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors can also help keep you safe. Sensors can help too. For example, they can detect whether the water has been left running or the temperature is too high or low.
9. Keep active and engaged.
Keeping up with the things you enjoy is great for your quality of life. Use a large-faced clock and a calendar to help you keep track of the day and time, and the different things you’re doing. Some people find a whiteboard helpful for writing down reminders.
10. Get outside.
Take opportunities to get outdoors – it’s good for your wellbeing. Check that the front door is easy to tell apart from the others in the road or block. If you’ve got a garden, make sure there’s somewhere you can sit and rest when you need to.
These are just a few of the things you can do to help yourself to stay living at home. For more tips and advice see our booklet Making your home dementia friendly.