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Dementia-friendly Spaces

Living With Alzheimer's >> Creating a Safe Environment | 04.24.15

Dementia-friendly spaces: creating safe and comfortable living areas

Creating the right environment can help make life easier and less stressful for both the person with dementia and their caregiver. The emphasis should be on designing or rearranging appropriate living areas to be safe, comfortable and functional.

Keep things simple

Rooms that are cluttered and messy can be confusing to a person with dementia and may actually cause agitation and discomfort. Clean, organized spaces are optimal.

The person’s bedroom ideally would have a view to the outside so they don’t feel isolated and cut off from the world. Decorating the room with familiar objects can be comforting to the person and may help them relax. Instead of keeping belongings “hidden” in drawers, having lots of shelves can help keep personal items in the open and visible to the person with dementia, making it easier for them to find things.

Consider placing attractive and interesting “landmarks” around the house, such as paintings or plants. Research has proven that landmarks are important visual cues that help people with dementia navigate through a space.

Keep things safe

Avoid highly reflective or slippery floor surfaces. To aid in safe walking, carpeting is the preferred floor covering, but avoid bold patterns; these can cause perceptual problems for some people. Bathroom sink and toilet fixtures that are a contrasting color to the room’s walls are easier to see for those with visual problems.

Assistive devices in the bathroom and shower may also help extend a person’s independence. If budget allows, motion activated lights or touch lighting fixtures can make life easier for those who may have problems with conventional lamps and lighting.

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