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How a Well-Designed Environment Can Help Dementia Patients

by Stacey Rossano on 7/3/15 3:52 PM

A well-designed environment can have a positive impact on dementia patients, helping them to feel more at ease and be able to better navigate their surroundings.

The following adjustments can be utilized in nursing homes and other health-care settings as well as at home:

Well designed environment for dementia patients

Better lighting

Older adults with dementia often have poor eyesight, so it’s important to have good levels of lighting in every room. If lighting is inadequate, dementia patients can have trouble finding their way around and may be at higher risk for falls.

Better lighting can be accomplished by using the highest wattage light bulbs that are recommended for each particular fitting, opening curtains, and removing unnecessary blinds. While lighting is important throughout the nursing home or home, particular attention should be paid to bathrooms and stairs.

Use of contrasting colors

People with dementia often have difficulty accurately perceiving depth and dimension. Using contrasting colors for furniture, walls, and floors can help make these areas easier to differentiate and use. Differentiating between different surfaces can be a particular problem in bathroom areas, which can tend to be dominated by white or beige. Getting a toilet seat in a dark color can help make it easier to locate.

Conversely, the use of color can be used to help dementia patients avoid certain areas. A black mat placed in front of doors can be perceived as a bottomless pit by patients or loved ones with dementia, so they may lose interest. This shouldn’t be used, of course, if it causes anxiety. In addition, painting a door that leads to outside areas the same color as the surrounding wall and door knob can make it less visible to a person who tends to wander.

Reduce unneeded stimulation

Dementia patients may have difficulty dealing with competing stimuli. Keep positive stimuli and eliminate unnecessary sound and visual stimulation through the following methods:

  • Eliminate music played throughout a nursing home
  • Use sound-absorbing materials in public areas
  • Use carpeting to minimize glare and absorb sound
  • Avoid shiny floor materials and waxes
  • Hold group activities in rooms with doors that can be shut
  • Minimize the sound from carts, ice makers, and other devices as much as possible.

Changing the environment for dementia patients doesn't have to be costly or complicated to be effective. By implementing these changes, you'll be providing a safer, more comfortable environment for a patient or loved one with dementia.

Dementia Training For Long-term care staff

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