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Living with Alzheimer’s or dementia is challenging. Keeping your older loved one feeling secure, happy, and above all safe, becomes top priority as they start to have trouble remembering, processing, and reasoning.

Simply thinking about a routine daily task can be overwhelming. By introducing a few simple measures into your home, you can help boost their independence while reducing frustration, stress, anxiety — for them, and for you, as you learn to navigate this new challenge.

6 Simple steps to make your home dementia-friendly

     1. Lock the door

Wandering is a common activity for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Deadbolts, child locks (like the toddler knob-covers), alarms, and even disguising the door to look like an extension of the wall can all help in preventing your senior loved one from inadvertently trying to escape.

     2. Clear out the clutter

Removing distracting piles, clutter and items that aren’t necessary can help those living with dementia focus on exactly what they need.

     3. Simple signage

Putting up simple “Food” or “Bed” signs with one-word or picture indicators can be helpful. In places like the bathroom and kitchen, labeling faucet handles with “hot” and “cold” is a great way to make those rooms extra functional. Consider adding decals or other decorations on large windows or glass doors, as these can be difficult to see for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

     4. Use contrasting colours

While painting the bathroom door a different colour is helpful, having a toilet seat that stands out is a great way as well to help make this task easier for those with dementia. Same goes for the kitchen. A bright plate on the plain table will highlight the food and because they’re clearly able to see the food on a bright, un-patterned plate, they’ll have an easier time eating it independently.

      5. Support along the way

Installing handrails in stairways, adding no-slip strips to stairs, lighting the halls, and a gentle reminder to not carry anything while they’re walking can all help aid balance and minimize falls.

      6. Out of sight, out of mind

As much as you want to draw attention to certain items and places, hiding the things you don’t want them to use – like knives, pet food, etc. – can help as well.

Some companies make adaptive dining and personal hygiene products to make these daily tasks easier on those living with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s Disease.

A few don’ts

  • Close the doors to any rooms you don’t want attention drawn to.
  • Using colourful patterns can be disorientating and will create visual confusion.
  • Avoid reflective surfaces and overly bright lights. Keeping things muted and even will help those living with dementia from feeling overwhelmed.
  • Don’t use area rugs, these pretty accents clutter a space and can inadvertently cause tripping.

Unsure if the above is really necessary yet for your senior loved one? Understanding the signs and symptoms of dementia is the first step. Your local Alzheimer’s Association is always available to offer additional tools and resources. Selected Verve Senior Living residences may offer respite stays to give those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as their caregivers, a welcome break with peace of mind that your senior loved one is well-cared for by a trained, loving support team.

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