7 cheap and easy tips for making your property more dementia friendly
Alice Billin, Programme Partnerships and Business Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, provides simple suggestions of adaptations that can help people with dementia.
Two thirds of people with dementia in the UK live in their own home in the community. However, 95% of homes lack even basic accessibility features. We would like to empower landlords to ensure that they can support people with dementia to sustain their tenancies for as long as possible. Find out about the very small and inexpensive dementia-friendly changes you can make to your property that will have a huge impact for people affected by dementia.
What issues could dementia cause in private renting?
Memory loss can cause issues with navigating around, including their own home.
Solution: Signage can be useful for navigation, such as on toilet doors. These shouldn’t be institutional or clinical, but make sure they are clear and in bold face. ‘Landmarks’, such as a painting or a plant, can also be used to help people navigate.
Perception issues and sight loss mean that things can be difficult for people with dementia to see.
Solution: Simple colour contrasts can have a huge impact. Light switches that are a different colour to the wall, or painting a square border around them, make them easier to see. Toilet seats of contrasting colour are another example.
Memory loss may make it harder to remember where items are kept.
Solution: Consider putting signs on cupboard doors (such as ‘plates and bowls’) or having glass cupboard doors fitted so belongings are easier to find.
Perception issues mean ‘welcome’ mats by the front door can look like a hole and people may feel unable to step over them.
Solution: Where possible, avoid using mats by front doors or have them in the same colour as the rest of the floor.
People with dementia may struggle to recognise their house when they are coming home.
Solution: Personalise or allow the resident to personalise the property, so it is more easily recognised. Painting the door a different colour or having a distinctive house number or door knocker can help.
Due to perception issues, people with dementia are at higher risk of accidents in the home.
Solution: Clearly mark glass doors and mark the edge of each step on any stairs so they can be seen.
You don’t know how to help your residents affected by dementia.
Solution: Become a Dementia Friend to understand more about the small actions you can take to support people affected by dementia. Become a Dementia Friend in just ten minutes here, using the code: NLA123
Remember: everyone experiences dementia differently. If you have met one person with dementia, you have met one person with dementia. With all of these suggestions, make sure they are right for your resident by talking to them or their relatives and creating a relationship where they feel able to come to you and disclose any issues. By making your properties more dementia friendly you will be supporting people affected by dementia to remain independent members of their community.
By Alice Billin