What's it like living with dementia
People who live with dementia can go through many changes one of which is a visual misunderstanding or in other words their perception of every day things change. An example of this is a dark patterned floor could be seen as a hole and different colours can blend into one. These can cause people to become anxious, they can get distressed or restless.
At Your Care and Support, we aim to understand what dementia is and how we can meet the needs of people living with dementia. We look to ensure the wellbeing of each and every individual is achieved.
If you are living with someone who had dementia or you know someone then the following tips will help you approach this.
There can be some simple changes that can be made to make the environment more dementia friendly. This, in turn, will be a positive step and influence on a person who is living with dementia, it will help them with their independence and wellbeing. The aim is to create a calmness and reduce the restlessness or agitation.
The environment people live in can have a huge impact on people who are living with dementia. This can be done to make the environment being bright, clear and fresh, try to avoid dark bold patterns. Very busy patterns can cause a person who had dementia feel uncomfortable, they feel that they are anxious all the time. Contrasting colours and having bright themes with pictures that can bring up a conversation. Things like photographs or pictures of film stars they may have liked or may have seen. Pictures of the place they grew up or once lived.
Build a memory box with them, this is a box that contains pictures, photographs or ornaments, anything which will allow them to remember, something familiar, and something they can recognise and say this is mine. Something else that may help is having cupboards and draws and put items and pictures and memorabilia in them so they can open and look inside. Paint the door handles different colours as contrasting colours will catch their eye.
Look at the colours you use in the rooms and where possible stick with block colours and avoid heavy dark patterns as multiple colours can cause confusion. Put a sign or a picture on the bathroom door. Try to avoid or minimise shadows in the house
Try to have as much natural light as possible and avoid obstructing windows, it’s important for people with dementia to see into the garden so if you have room position a chair that looks directly outside and maybe put a bird feeder outside
If finances allow investing in some specialist lighting will help as in the evenings a lot of people with dementia experience something called sundowning.
(Sundowning is a symptom of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. It's also known as “late-day confusion.” If someone you care for has dementia, their confusion and agitation may get worse in the late afternoon and evening. www.healthline.com)
As the sun goes down, they can have an increase of agitation, by having specialist lighting this can help, a light sensor can be set up so if they swing their legs out of the bed at night a light in the room or in the bathroom will come on automatically.
Plenty of fresh air and a garden that can be used can benefit people who have dementia, try and design the garden that can be interactive where they can sit and touch plants, different themes, raised flower beds, an area they could plant in so they do not need to bend down, your local garden centre will be able to advise you on organising the garden and choosing appropriate plants.
Just because they have dementia it doesn’t mean that they need to give up certain activities, yes they may need supervision but the more active they are the better, encourage them to continue cooking, even if it’s only heating up some soup, making a sandwich or washing up after. Give them the opportunity to do what they have always done for as long as they can.
These are just some ideas that make the living environment better for people with dementia but remember everyone is different and are individuals and it’s important to understand what is important to them and make sure they have familiar objects around them, try to understand what agitates them or over stimulates them and if you do then you know what needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Remember to do what is right for the individual and if you need advice please contact us here at Your Care and Support.