Dementia affects around 850,000 people in the UK, with numbers set to rise to 1 million by 2025.
The condition is associated with an ongoing decline of brain function, which can cause problems with memory, thinking speed, mental sharpness, language, understanding, mood, judgement and movement.
“Living with dementia can be challenging. Even the simplest task of making a cup of tea can become overwhelming,” said John Ramsay, CEO and founder of Shift8.
Ramsay provides five tips to ensure you or your loved one’s home is dementia friendly, provides the right care and is as comfortable as possible.
“Reminiscence is the most important thing when it comes to interacting with people who are on their dementia journey,” said Ramsay.
“Forgetfulness can be very confusing and stressful for a person with dementia, so subtle reminders across the house will keep their brain stimulated.”
This can be achieved by putting frames around the house with photos of familiar faces and places to trigger a memory of a particular time.
Keep as much natural light as possible
Dementia can negatively affect one’s concept of time, so when it’s daytime it’s important to keep as much natural light in the house as possible, and when it’s night time close the curtains in the bedroom to explicitly differentiate day to night.
Good lighting can also help people with dementia clearly understand where they are, what they need to do and why they need to do it, while creating a darker bedroom will remind them it’s the end of the day and they need to get to sleep.
Writing down the process of certain tasks, such as making a cup of tea, can help people with dementia remember what they need to do.
Sticking post-it notes on cupboards detailing their contents is also helpful.
Put lists and post-it notes in relevant places, for example a list of phone numbers next to the phone.
Keep things as they were
Making changes in the home, such as moving furniture, can be disorientating for people with dementia.
“With dementia, short-term memory can become merged with long-term memory, so your loved one may remember the bookshelf to the left of the sofa – as it’s been that way for 15 years – to suddenly move it could cause quite a high level of stress for them,” said Ramsay.
Bring some colour into the house
“Colour is one of the most effective ways to differentiate one item from another,” said Ramsay.
For example, making the cold tap blue and hot tap red can make it clearer for people with dementia and easier to get on with their day while avoiding accidents.
Dementia can also affect concept of distance, for example where steps start and end, so Ramsay recommends adding a strip of colour to the first and last steps of the staircase.