Designing for Dementia, Arranging for Alzheimer’s

People with Dementia and Alzheimer’s suffer from a long list of difficulties. The obvious being loss of memory and frustration, and the lesser knowns being decreased mobility and motor function, lack of appetite, wandering, anxiety and many more. One way to alleviate some of these challenges is to design a space that counteracts confusion and encourages positive behaviors.

Bathrooms that won’t cause an accident

Restrooms can be dangerous for any elderly person, but especially those with Dementia. Make sure the door has a clear sign indicating this is a restroom, install motion lights for midnight visits, and remove tripping hazards such as thick area rugs. Restrooms should be handicap-accessible with wide aisles for walkers and wheelchairs, grab bars and elevated seats, and anti-slip floors.

Kitchen and Dining Rooms designed to increase consumption

It can be difficult to get people with dementia to eat enough, so opt for large dishes in bright colors that contrast the food being served. This makes them think there’s less food that they must eat, and the contrast helps with any vision loss. When serving soups and beverages look for cups and bowls with handles on both sides to make the dishes easier to hold. A study by Purdue also showed that a large fish tank in the dining area helped dementia patients feel calm, and increased their food consumption.

Choose bright colored dishes that contrast what is being served.
Choose bright colored dishes that contrast what is being served.

Bedroom design should be restful and reminiscent

Getting enough sleep is extremely important when you have Dementia. Decorate their room in soothing colors, provide wide aisles, and install motion-sensor nightlights if possible. Put up old photographs and place familiar objects within reach such as a hairbrush, cozy blanket, or book. Also purchase a clock that tells them what day and what time of day it is. During the daytime consider playing music from their era. Music has proven to be quite therapeutic to people with dementia.

Living Spaces should be cozy and engaging

In main living areas, be mindful of the temperature. Make sure furniture is firm and easy to get out of and try to have different types of linens for tactile stimulation. Because it’s difficult to get Dementia patients to eat, some people place snacks throughout the living area.

Another way to ease depression and misbehavior is to have memory games or stations in a quiet sitting area. Try to mimic things they did when they were younger. For example, a former nurse could have a clipboard and a stethoscope.

“Suggest that different people come on different days during the patient’s most alert hours.”

Hallways need to be safe and prevent confusion

Often people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia will wander, and not always during daylight hours. Placing sensors near doorways and hallways alerts caregivers and having motion sensor lights helps patients wander a little safer. Place photos and nametags near doors so your loved one knows which room to return to. Place seating areas throughout the living space so when seniors wander if they need a place to rest, they can do so.

Visitors and outdoor spaces

One of the best ways to put dementia patients at ease is to have familiar faces visit on a regular basis. Suggest that different people come on different days during the patient’s most alert hours. Talk about memories, look through old photos, and keep the mood light and upbeat. Laughter is always the best medicine.

For an outdoor area make sure paths are walker and wheelchair friendly and well lit for evening strolls. Plan a raised garden area with your loved one and include their planting suggestions, then let them maintain it and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Caring for a loved one with Dementia or Alzheimer’s is an incredibly difficult task, hopefully some of these tips and tricks make it a bit easier. At LTC Consumer we believe in planning for your future and having a long-term care plan. Speak to a specialist or request a free quote and start your plan today.