10 ways to make your home dementia friendly

If you have dementia, living at home can help you feel safe and stay independent. Here are our top 10 tips for making your home dementia friendly.

dementia friendly home

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.

Our dementia advisers are here for you.

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.

dementia friendly home DIY and remove clutter

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.

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Looking into a walk in shower for my mum with mod dementia. Can anybody recommend a good company? Also is it worth getting a Compsate all in one toilet as she has incontinence issues and doesn't always clean up well afterwards. She has refused medication and is refusing to socialise with anybody except me her daughter and my family., after a life full of church events and operatic societies and classical music.

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Hi there Sandra,

We would recommend calling our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456 for information, advice and support specific to your mum's situation and the difficulties you have been facing. More details about the support line (including opening hours) are available here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-connect-support-line

We also have an online community, Talking Point, where carers and other people affected by dementia can share their experiences and receive peer support: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/dementia-talking-point-our-on… This may well be helpful if you're seeking ideas from other carers on what adaptations to the home have be beneficial.

In the meantime, we do have some sections of the website that may be of interest - for example, 'Washing and bathing' - https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/daily-living/washing-and-bath… and also 'Toilet problems and continence' - https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/daily-living/toilet-problems-…

We hope this is helpful,
Alzheimer's Society blog team

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I’ve tried calling. Customer first a few times but waiting over 40 minutes each time I’ve hung up & not spoken to anyone , I care for my 90 year old dad with advanced dementia & have no help at all , just leaflets !!! Sad state of affairs !!!

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Hi there Julie, thanks for getting in touch.
Please may we confirm whether the line you are calling is the National Dementia Helpline number (0300 222 11 22)? If so, the opening hours are as follows:
Monday to Wednesday: 9am – 8pm
Thursday and Friday: 9am – 5pm
Saturday and Sunday: 10am – 4pm
Outside of those hours, there should be the option to leave a voice message.
You can find out more about receiving phone support here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/national-dementia-helpline
-
Alzheimer's Society blog team

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Can I offer you any generic help with difficulties you are having?

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My wife, at 66 years old, has been seen by various people at various NHS departments, IAPT, memory clinic doctor and psychologist, GP, etc, over the last ten years. Three years ago she was diagnosed with Korsakoff's syndrome, which is alcohol-related brain damage. She has virtually NO short term memory, and, as of late, her personal hygiene has noticeably deteriorated. I believe that this may be a contributory factor in her current situation whereby she is being treated for an infection of the heart created by bacteria getting into her bloodstream. As a few other people have commented there is NO help just advice on how to deal with the condition. As a carer, in a very difficult situation, I am amazed that there is so little REAL help or understanding. My own family understands and tries to help when they can. However, some of my wife's family, not all, I hasten to add, actually blame me for her condition and have even tried to convince her to leave me. This only adds to my despair.
There is help for my wife of 46 years, which might give me some respite if you are able to pay for it. I am going to try this approach and hope that I can find a way of funding it long term, assuming it has the desired effect.

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I have been battling with Local Authority and there is NO help to be provided. They do assessments, do no provide a response in writing, and then prevaricate, try to confuse and then when you ask for a yes or no answer for help the answer is no. I have had no help for my husband nor have they taken my needs into account as a carer and all they want to do is imprison me in my own home. I am not entitled to Carers Allowance as I have my state pension (Carers is £66 max per week). Care/Nursing homes charge over £1000 per week and even day care costs over £50 for 5 hours. Yet carers can't get support and are not even rewarded for their efforts. I am so angry and have no time to march against it, wave a banner or do something drastic because I have no life of my own anymore as I am bogged down with caring. It is a nightmare. My husband would be very happy in a home and I would be very happy if he went to one. I would settle for 3 hours a week Take a Break but don't even qualify for that. I don't want to be a martyr, saint and certainly not a carer. I just wish someone would come up with help - not advice - not another leaflet! I have had so many people in my home - Dementia Advisors, Social Workers, and so on. All talk and no help. No - not more leaflets, leaflets and leaflets. 18" high pile of leaflets. But no help!

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Hi Mary,
You need to have a Carer’s Assessment as they help you by assessing your needs.
I guess your husband been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, or a type of dementia via an assessment. If so you can also apply for Council Tax reduction for cognitive impairment, a form to fill in plus your husband’s Dr will need to fill a section in.
Contact the Alzheimer’s Society to get a referral for your husband. They will point you in the right direction for help.
Your husband will be entitled to Attendance Allowance which is about £55 a week (not means tested). A long form to fill in, you can get AgeUK to come out to help fill in the form (no cost). Takes about 6 to 8 weeks for them to process I believe. The money will go to your husband but is aimed for help for him I.e. people coming in or respite, day care etc. Hope this helps. Dementia is such a cruel thing. Carer’s need help too. Alzheimer’s Society are great, they will help you. Hope this helps. xx

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As a Carer of my Mum with Alzheimer’s and my father with ill health, I completely agree with your comments on ‘no help’... so many organisations to call and visits and leaflets BUT No actual help! Until you are in this situation and have been through trying all these avenues for support, you cannot believe the complete and utter lack of actual help that is needed.

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Anyone who is caring for a loved one deserves a medal 🏅. Not the almost non-existent help the government is prepared to fund.. Well done Joanna, June, Janet, Pearl and anyone else. I’m 40 and my father has Alzheimer’s, as did both my grandmas. My father could not think of anything worse when he was ‘normal’ (he wasn’t ever normal 🙂) than having the same happen to him that happened to his mother and mother-in-law, and now it has. He is only 77 but refuses any help as he’s “not old and doesn’t need it”. His views are still all the same just his memory is ruined. There should be more places people can go that are fun and give carers a break. My father would like a pottery club or something but he hates the thought of a home.

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My word Bronwen. No one better than you knows this is a Labour of love - you know fully well it’s the disease but hearing those words in that tone is still devastating. The more people you can get to take the pressure off you in this stage of his illness the better it would be for both of you x

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"Dementia" is the umbrella term all forms of dementia sit under. Alzheimer's is the most common. The Alzheimer's Society opens its doors to all forms of dementia sufferers and their carers. My husband of 55 years has fronto temporal dementia, once known as Picks. He has no empathy, unable to accept responsibility, cannot understand logic or consequences, has frequent abrupt mood changes. He has problems with balance and movement . He depends on me but will belittle me and poke fun at my expense, if I am upset he does not understand the signs, part of his brain is aware at some level but since he cannot understand he walks away.

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I have put large signs on the bedroom door and the bathroom door. It doesn’t help. My husband is used to seeing the signs and therefore doesn’t read what they say. Likewise when he needs a pee, he looks for a urinal as found in mens public toilets, his initial reaction is to avoid using the toilet bowl then.

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Found all of the above interesting...also heartbreaking...but will sign up to several of the on line contacts, We are all individuals with different backgrounds and experiences....but sharing our stories MUST help. Local authority health services vary enormously as we know ...but Alzheimer society is a national link....so glad I am in touch.

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my husband is 89 and was diagnosed with dementia caused by excessive alcohol I think there should be a warning on bottles and cans, ( just as with cigarettes) He also has Alzheimers . I am 84 with Parkinson's Syndrome.
the help that is supposed to be out there isn't readily available and to be honest i am sinking under the load.

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Hello June, thank you for getting in touch.
We're sorry to hear about your husband's dementia diagnosis. Please explore our support services to see what might be available in your area: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/your-support-services
Our National Dementia Helpline adviser are available for a chat on 0300 222 11 22: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/national-dementia-helpline
In addition, you may find it beneficial to join our online community to talk with other people who are in your situation: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/dementia-talking-point-our-on…
Wishing you all the best, June.
-
Alzheimer's Society blog team

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Use sineage. So he can see - for instance. Picture of the toilet followed by arrow (as many as you need) then another picture of the toilet on the bathroom door. Depending on recognition ability , you might need to use a picture of a men’s room urinal. Put lights near the signs.
Put a urinal bottle on an over bed table near him with a sign to print him to use it.

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My husband was diagnosed with mixed alzheimers four years ago. Recently he has become very disorientated in our own home as well as when out. He cannot find his bedroom or the loo etc sometimes. What should one do.

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Likely to be a combination of problems.
1. Intelligence is not affected by dementia so think about yourself. You know you can’t sequence things so the logical thing to do is stop trying. It’s also potentially less embarrassing.. work on that first. Explain it’s it the outcome that matters- it’s the act of doing. Even unsuccessful doing.
2. Reward centre in the brain releases chemicals that produce a feeling of enjoyment when we do things. This is what sours us on to do it again. If this isn’t working properly, there is no motivation to keep trying. Why would you ?
3. The brain produces , manages , moderates and reabsorbes neuro transmitters - it produces levels of enzymes and chemicals that stabilises mood. The brain is dying. If it doesn’t do these jobs well, there needs to be a pharmacological intervention. Anticholinesterase inhibitors and anti depressant medication is useful to try. Just be aware there are side effects so on Balance it has to be worth it. Speak to your health professional. Also remember the volition undulates. So on Monday there may be very poor ability to self motivate. But on Tuesday all it might take is you being very enthusiastic about for example , going out for afternoon tea. Beach or park.

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My mother who is 82 has been caring for my father for the past 4 years and sadly I see her health deteriorating as well. My father is now becoming awkward and no longer wants to go to his day placements twice a week for a few hours. We cannot motivate him to go into the garden and he just wants to sit and sleep. I need to find a way to give my mother a break. I work full time so cannot help.

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Exactly my problem. We are really worried about our mum (looking after dad) who has become totally apathetic and seems to have given up trying to do anything. Scarcely cooks, given up her interests, says she is not depressed.

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I am 92 and have been caring for my husband with Mixed Dementia for a number of years. I found the best thing to do for my peace of mind is to remain very calm. (Arguments cause aggression) To use 4 word instructions rather than long sentences. To buy very simple jigsaw puzzles, and books like "A funny old would" or Timeslide cards. To encourage, praise, etc. as you would to a three year old.

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My husband diagnosed recently with mild Alzheimer's Type? not sure what this means, he has short term memory loss, and no longer drives his car but still plays golf and Bridge, I think not driving his car has had a significant impact on his independence. We are about to try the Bus, I will put him on the Bus into Town for him to look around, when he is ready to come Home he will contact by mobile, I will collect. We also try to visit garden centres and eat out. I give him jobs to do around the House, otherwise he would just sit, and use his mobile phone to read the News and other things. My daughter is moving, so will engage more with her dad, and take him to her house, which is by a canal, he eats well, but thin.

I am on a learning curve, but trying.

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What is the latest research news on treatment for
dementia?

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Hi Katherine, thanks for getting in touch. Our Research team provide regular updates about the latest news in dementia treatments and there are a number of ways you can find out more.

You can sign up to our Research e-newsletter (http://contact.alzheimers.org.uk/LP/I9g7u5AvPiL9), which gives a monthly update of the latest dementia research news. We also have a dedicated Research category on our blog (https://blog.alzheimers.org.uk/category/research/) and can also keep an eye on our Latest news section of the website (https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/news?categoryID=20027), which includes our comments on dementia research stories that have appeared in the media.

You may also be interested in our Care and Cure Magazine (https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20056/our_care_and_cure_research_mag…), which is the research magazine from Alzheimer's Society. It’s possible to read issues online, or you can subscribe to receive a monthly subscription via post.

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Good Afternoon,
Do you have a list of approved contractors to make adaptations to my Mothers property?, we need an access ramp putting installing to aid entry/exit to the house. We have tried our local social services and they are worse than useless so have decided to install it ourselves .

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Hello Tom,
For help with assistive technology, we have a list of organisations that may be better placed to advise on what you're looking for: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/staying-independent/assistive… This information is also available as a free downloadable factsheet (see page 18-19 for organisations to contact) https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/media/16636
We hope this helps, Tom.
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Alzheimer's Society blog team

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Please be circumspect- some medical interventions especially anaesthetic (in my opinion) cause problems. I have seen someone in the later stages really really struggle to survive with apnoea (forgetting to breath) and chest infection one after another. In this instance the surgery was absolutely life saving. But the flu jab well .... firstly it’s an inactive weakened virus. To all intents, a dead virus. Only activated when it comes into contact with the flu. (So long as the experts have guessed well on the strains that will circulate in flu season). So I am a flu champ because if a dementia registered person catches influenza it’s highly likely they will die. There is no way their weakened immune system will cope. No antibiotic will help and pneumonia is inevitable. I can only imagine that people cognitive function decline after the flu jab because they were getting unwell anyway. Infection or virus. Fungi or parasite. Don’t know for sure but what I do know is people with dementia access devices fairly regularly. Inside and outside of their home. That service will most likely involve contact with other people. These people are unintentional contaminates. Even the most well informed can accidentally infect a medically vulnerable person. Take your health professionals advice always when thinking about not having the flu jab. x

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I was wondering if anyone else has noticed a deterioration in the condition of the dementia loved one they are caring for after they have had their flu jab. I hav noticed my partner has got worse this October and last October.

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Oh my goodnessa I hadn't thought of that possibility. Mum had her flu jab at the end of September and has definitely deteriorated since then. Does your partner improve at all or does the decline in cognitive ability continue?

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