Creating a safe home environment for dementia patients


When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, families often face the difficult decision of whether home care or residential care is the best option. With some adjustments to the living environment and daily routine, many people with dementia can continue living comfortably and safely at home for a period of time. However, as the condition progresses, symptoms like memory loss, confusion and unsteady mobility can make independent living increasingly risky.

If you are caring for someone with dementia at home, it is important to adapt to the environment to support their changing needs. This will allow them to retain as much independence as possible while also keeping them safe from falls, accidents and wandering risks. Read on for tips on creating a dementia-friendly home.

Simplify and Declutter

A cluttered, chaotic space is overstimulating for someone with dementia. It can contribute to confusion, anxiety and agitation. Go through each room and remove unnecessary furniture and knick-knacks. Also take down patterned wallpaper and flooring if possible, as busy designs are often perceived as barriers by dementia patients. Stick to solid, neutral colours that are calming and unintrusive.

Improve Lighting

Install adequate lighting throughout the home, with light switches in easily accessible places. Consider motion-sensor night lights in hallways and bathrooms to prevent falls during midnight wanderings. Make sure there are no shadows or glare that could cause misperceptions. Open blinds and curtains during the day to let in natural light, which helps regulate circadian rhythms.

Support Independent Toileting

Incontinence often accompanies dementia, but accidents can be reduced through some simple adaptations. Place colourful signs or images on bathroom doors for easy identification. Install grab bars, non-slip mats and an elevated toilet seat for stability. Use a motion sensor or magnetic light that turns on automatically when the bathroom door opens at night.

Keep Essentials Within Reach

Place frequently used items, like glasses, slippers and medication, in easy-to-see locations to minimise frustration. You can also label drawers and cabinets with words or pictures as

visual cues. Install easy-to-use levers instead of knobs on doors and taps. Complete simple repairs immediately to prevent potential accidents.

Adapt Kitchen Appliances

The kitchen can be a risky area for dementia patients, but some adjustments can make it safer. Put a switch lock on the oven or hide knobs when not in use. Install an automatic kettle that turns off when finished boiling. You can also label cupboards with pictures or words to help your loved one locate items independently. Consider replacing gas stoves with electric models to reduce fire hazards.

Use Technology to Increase Safety

Specialist technology is available that can support independent living while also monitoring safety. Motion sensors, door alarms and bed alarms can alert caregivers if the dementia patient is moving around at unusual hours. Location devices allow tracking if the person wanders from home. Automated medication dispensers provide alerts and reminders. Consider installing one or more of these devices for peace of mind.

When is it Time for Professional Care?

Despite your best efforts to adapt to the home environment, a time may come when symptoms progress to a point where professional care is advisable. Warning signs include:

● Repeated falls or injuries

● Increased confusion and forgetfulness

● Not recognising loved ones

● Wandering from home often

● Inability to perform self-care tasks Specialist dementia care communities like, KYN’s recently opened Care Home in Hurlingham specialise in providing dedicated dementia care in a safe, supervised environment. Specially-trained staff assist residents with tasks like bathing, dressing, meals and medications based on each individual’s needs and abilities. Therapeutic activities keep the mind engaged and delay progression of symptoms.

If your loved one’s symptoms have advanced beyond what can be managed at home, don’t hesitate to reach out for support.

UK Dementia Resources:

Caring for someone with dementia can be challenging and isolating at times. If you need advice or emotional support, contact one of these UK organisations:

● Dementia UK: Provides Admiral Nurses who give practical and emotional support to families. Helpline: 0800 888 6678

● Alzheimer’s Society: Offers a helpline, online community forums, support groups and more. Helpline: 0333 150 3456

● Age UK: Local Age UK centres have dementia advisers who assist with care planning and accessing support services. Helpline: 0800 169 6565

You don’t have to care for a loved one with dementia alone. Reach out for help when you need it. Creating a safe, supportive home environment alongside professional care and respite can benefit the entire family.

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