Creating a Comforting, Safe Alzheimer’s & Dementia Environment

September 6, 2020
by TammyS | Health + Beauty

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Creating a Comforting, Safe Alzheimer’s & Dementia Environment

Everyday life can be difficult for a person who has Alzheimer’s or dementia and, as their disease progresses, they can experience more and more difficulty with reasoning, memory, thinking, and making appropriate choices.  Just spending a few moments looking at home surroundings from their point of view can help in making decisions about what can be changed to make it safer for them.

  1. First and foremost, make certain the living area is clean and free from clutter.  Removing clutter will reduce confusion for them and keeping walkways clear also decreases the risk of falls.
  2. Provide plenty of adequate lighting to eliminate shadows which may result in confusion.
  3. Leave doors to all rooms open so they can see into them and more easily recognize where they are going.
  4. If you like to keep doors closed in your home, then put names or pictures on doors, such as “Bob’s Bedroom” or a picture of them on their bedroom door, a picture of a toilet on the bathroom door, pictures of other items such as towels, underwear, shoes, cups & plates, etc. on the areas where they are kept.
  5. If they are still able to take their own medicines, but sometimes forget later if they did, place meds in a Sunday through Saturday container.  If they are gone from a certain day and time in the pill box, it will be a  reminder that the meds were taken.
  6. Being oriented to person, place and time is a struggle as the illnesses progress.  Keep a photo of them with their name on it where they can see it often, a simple large calendar with each day crossed off as it passes and a simple large dial clock that can be referred to when needed.
  7. Bathroom Assistance May Include:
    1. Visibly labeling hot and cold water faucets
    2. Installing a raised toilet seat and/or grab bars
    3. For men, adding a highly visible target for them to aim for when urinating. 
    4. For women, placing a different colored toilet seat on the toilet can help them to differentiate where to sit down.
  8. Kitchen Assistance Includes:
    1. Placing photos of items they use on doors and drawers where they are kept.
    2. Removing the doors to cabinets with items they may need to access regularly.
    3. Keeping countertops free of clutter.
    4. Making their own little area on the counter so items they regularly use will all be in one location.
    5. As they begin to have difficulty holding utensils, glasses, or cups you may consider purchasing special ones that allow them a better grip.  Also, you may want to begin incorporating more finger foods in their meals.
    6. It is important to note that you may want to “hide” certain items that may be dangerous such as weapons, sharp utensils and medications if they are unable to safely take their own.
  9. Alzheimer and dementia patients generally begin to lose interest in food or can no longer smell or taste it.  You can make mealtime more pleasant for them by:
    1. Using different colored plates that will make their food more visible.  A Boston University study found that 25% more food was consumed when food was presented on a red plate as opposed to a white plate.
    2. Keeping only items necessary to eat and drink on the table and remove all other distracting items.
    3. Providing a quiet peaceful environment in which to eat.  Playing  quiet, soothing music that they enjoy may be relaxing for them and encourage them to eat.
    4. Paying attention to the food items they still enjoy eating and preparing those items whenever possible.
    5. Testing the temperature of everything they eat and drink.
    6. Eating with them so they feel more engaged.  However, limit conversation to avoid distraction.  Eye contact and smiling can be comforting.
    7. Allowing plenty of time to eat.
    8. Limiting portion sizes and choices.  A large amount of food and several different choices on a plate can be confusing and discourage eating.

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