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How can I design a safer home environment for symptoms of dementia?

By | May 9th, 2021

In a home, there are simple things we can do. In terms of color choices, for example, we can provide more contrast for people so they can see the toilet against the floor. We want color contrast between the toilet and the wall behind it. We want color contrast between grab bars and the wall so people can see where to grasp it. [We can add] pull down shades over mirrors if a loved one sees their own reflection, but instead of seeing themselves, sees a stranger. We can hide those mirrors without having to take them off the wall.

One of the most important things is to make sure that the person suffering from dementia can maintain their circadian rhythms. They may lose that ability to get quality REM sleep at night and then become more dependent, unfortunately, on medication.

We want to keep their connection to the outside [by using] daylight, and help them see the transitions [of the day], hopefully gently, so they don’t go through sundowning syndromes. There are also lighting fixtures and lighting systems that help ease those transitions and help reinforce their circadian rhythms.

You [should] check your faucets, especially shower faucets and things like that to make sure they’re equipped with scald protection. A lot of newer faucets on the market these days pretty much come with it. But, in an older home with an older faucet, it may not have that style of protection. Someone who has lost the sense of feel on their skin may not realize the water is too hot or have slipped and fell and hit the faucet and turned it all the way to the hot water. Scald protection will prevent hot water from surging out of the fixture and burning someone.