4 Easy Dementia Interior Design Tweaks
Posted on - 14th August 2019
There are a number of ways to make care homes more accessible for residents, including widening doorways to accommodate wheelchairs and installing grab rails in bathrooms. But for individuals living with dementia, the condition can present with a range of complex behaviours and symptoms that aren’t as simple to anticipate and manage.
We’ve drawn inspiration from the dementia friendly demonstration home designed by Loughborough University and BRE, to bring you 4 easy interior design tweaks that can be implemented in any home to promote independence while reducing the risk of accidents.
Carpets & Flooring
Uneven flooring or loose rugs are first on the risk assessment when making an environment safer, but colour matters too. Misperception is quite common in individuals with dementia, which can be dangerous when it comes to the colour of carpets and floorings. Certain colours or textures can be misinterpreted by those living with dementia. For example, a shiny floor might look wet or a dark floor may be interpreted as a hole underfoot.
Our Tip - Choose light coloured carpets and be consistent with flooring.
Certain colours have been proven to help people feel more relaxed and at home. And for people living with dementia who may become distressed or upset, it’s doubly important to have calmer surroundings. Residents with dementia in your care home may also find it difficult to navigate a space that’s all one colour which can lead to further confusion.
Our Tip - Use contrasting colours to highlight walls, floors, skirting boards and door frames. Go for light, calming colours in your interior design such as soft green, yellow and blue tones.
Utilise Natural Light
Sundowning is a common occurrence for individuals with dementia. While it is not exactly clear what causes it, it may be due to a disturbance in the body clock and circadian rhythms leading to sleeplessness and agitation. Natural daylight is one of the best ways to help with sundowning, so getting out and about as much as possible. Leaving the curtains open and windows uncovered is another great way to let light mood boosting daylight flood in.
Our Tip - Privacy is important, so leaving the curtains open isn’t always practical. Opt for light coloured blinds or curtains to create areas of contrast and brighten indoor spaces.
It’s easy to overlook the ‘simple’ things that may present a problem for individuals with dementia. But often these can lead to accidents, upset or agitation and be devastating to a person’s confidence. Straightforward changes such as clear signposting in certain areas can make things much easier. For example, labelling hot and cold water taps clearly and putting a picture of a toilet at eye level are both quick and easy changes that can avoid any long term issues.
Our Tip - Little things such as labels and signs can be very helpful in providing prompts - don’t forget about them!
Dementia affects those living with it in many ways, some more predictable than others. By paying attention to how individuals with dementia navigate and interact with their living space, changes can be implemented gradually to eliminate risks and promote independence.
Here at Hill & Hill Design we are passionate about supplying care home furniture that is both design-led and practical for day-to-day activities. And we believe that dementia furniture has many benefits for residents and staff. If you would like to know more about how we support individuals living with dementia with our products, head over to our dementia furniture section to find out more or check out our nursing home furniture guide here.