Over 500,000 people in the UK have been diagnosed with dementia, with a 56 per cent rise in the number of people diagnosed with dementia from 2010/11 to 2015/16, according to NHS statistics analysed by Alzheimer’s Research UK.
The word dementia describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language – but it can also affect mood and behaviour.
There are different causes of dementia – Alzheimer’s disease, or vascular dementia caused by a series of strokes.
Many people with the condition are encouraged to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.
A homecare service provider, Helping Hands, launched the Dementia Friendly Home project to educate the nation on how to make homes more pleasant places for people with dementia.
Helping Hands’ Dementia specialists share seven simple tips to make the home a more calming environment and prevent stress.
1. Place personal belongings strategically around the home as a talking point or distraction when a person is feeling confused.
Items from childhood, or photos of a childhood home can be particularly beneficial as earlier memories are often more vivid.
2. Cover mirrors and close curtains as soon as it gets dark, as reflections can cause confusion and unnecessary stress.
Shiny floors can also be confusing for those with dementia as it looks like water has been spilled.
Consider placing a rug on the floor and securing the edges to avoid slips or trips.
3. Reduce the number of patterned surfaces in the house, as sufferers may find these confusing.
Place plain rugs over patterned carpets or hang large photos on walls with bold wallpaper.
4. Dementia can have a significant impact on a person’s eyesight, so always keep rooms well lit.
5. If the house has stairs, place coloured tape on the edge of the first step to help to distinguish where the hallway starts or ends.
6. Place signs on cupboards and doors around the house with images of the contents inside.
Pictures are more memorable than words, so this will enable people with dementia to find items more easily.
7. Serve food on crockery that clearly stands out from the table and from the food on the plate. This will help people to clearly see what they are eating. Plates and bowls with coloured rims can also help with this.
“Over the past 28 years we have seen how valuable it can be for people living with Dementia to remain in their own homes,” said Lindsey Edgehill, sales and marketing director at Helping Hands Homecare.
“However, Dementia is a complex condition and each person experiences the symptoms differently, so each may require different adjustments and levels of care, particularly as their condition progresses.
“We know that partners, friends and family members can feel powerless when a loved one is given a dementia diagnosis, but there are simple things that can be done to make the home environment a happier place for sufferers, whether it’s their full-time home, or just an occasional place of visit.”
Find out more about the Dementia Friendly Home project.
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