Help a Loved One with Dementia Remain Independent

Help a Loved One with Dementia Remain Independent

Author

Jed Lant

5 Min

Caring for a loved one living alone with dementia presents many challenges for caregivers. It is essential you put the necessary arrangements in place to ensure they are safe and supported. You shouldn’t let the bad days and little incidents deter you - if you know where to look for help and how to go about creating a safe environment, your life will be much easier.

There are currently 850,000 people living with dementia in Britain and this is set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. As such, it’s likely that one of your friends or family members will suffer from the disease at some point or other.

When people who have dementia live alone, their surroundings must be adapted to facilitate their changing needs. Here are some helpful tips and ideas for making your surroundings suitable for your loved one:

Making the home safe

One of the most important things you can do when a loved one has dementia is to make the home safe - whether they’re living with you or elsewhere. 

It can be hard to know where to start initially, but there are several things you can do to ensure the safety of your loved one at home.

Older woman and her daughter smiling stood next to a bed in a light coloured bedroom

Preventing falls

Perhaps the biggest concern when supporting a loved one with dementia is falling. Tripping hazards can be overlooked when preparing a safe home, but the more risk you can eliminate, the better. 

You should think about moving small items on the floor such as ottomans and side tables to safer, more visible places. Another tip is to consider replacing door thresholds between rooms if they protrude and present a hazard. Rugs can also cause tripping, so you could either tape them down or remove them from the building completely.

Getting in and out of bed or a chair is the cause of many falls. Consider getting supportive furniture that will help your loved one to get around safely. An electric bed with a simple-to-use backrest button will allow your loved one to sit up before getting out of bed. A riser recliner chair can also be used to tilt your loved one forward to support them whilst standing. Both items of furniture will significantly reduce the risk of falling for your loved one.

At Opera, we also have a range of profiling care beds that are specifically designed for people who need nursing care. Our Solo Profiling Care Bed is particularly useful for dementia users - if you’d like to find out more about the dementia-friendly furniture we have, our experienced team will be happy to help.

Older gentlman sat reading the newspaper in bed with his glasses on

Decor and lighting

Contrasting colours within your home can help your loved one to identify different items. This ensures that switches and sockets that aren’t the same colour as the wall can easily be found, also reducing confusion. People with dementia are less able to distinguish between different colours and shades, which can cause difficulty at home. As such, furnishings that stand out from the rest of the decor are less likely to be tripped on.

You should use lighting to your advantage. Good lighting will make objects more visible and help to prevent falls, enabling the user to get around easier. Using a night light will make your loved one feel more secure, as well as make walking in the dark much safer.

Grey king size bed in bedroom with two bedside lamps on

Cleanliness

Keeping the house clean and tidy can be a big help. Unnecessary clutter can cause confusion and frustration, or even injuries in some cases. Whether this means using family, friends or a paid cleaner, it’s important to create a clean and safe environment for all.

A cluttered home can be overstimulating for a dementia patient - keeping the home tidy may also make them more comfortable when at home.

Woman with short brown hair and cglasses cleaning a window

Avoid Hazards

Keep potentially dangerous items out of harm’s way to ensure the safety of your loved one. 

It can be easy to confuse a cleaning spray bottle with a cooking spray bottle, so you want to avoid any unnecessary accidents from happening. Keeping similar items in separate areas can prevent accidental misuse. You should also consider keeping clear instructions next to cookers and other appliances, which should minimise misuse and the potential consequences that can occur. A home safety checklist can be useful when making plans to care for a person with dementia.

a notepad with todays checklist

Putting plans in place for emergencies

It is inevitable that at some stage your loved one will need emergency help. You should keep a list of emergency contacts with telephone numbers next to the phone. You should also give trusted neighbours keys to the house so that they can check on you or your loved one if something seems wrong.

Telecare devices can be purchased that allow your loved one to alert you or care services if something is amiss. Sometimes your local council will provide you with this in the form of a wearable device, along with home sensors that sense unusual movement, gas, smoke or other emergency hazards. Alternatively, you can purchase wearable alarms online. Find out more about wearable alarms here.

 Older lady wearing sparkly necklace and earrings sat with a younger female with her arm around her

Encourage wellbeing

Other than taking precautions and planning ahead, the next most important thing is to keep your loved one with dementia calm and happy. This can mean placing memoirs of loved ones and happy times around the house. Keep music and books they enjoy in an accessible place and make sure they have the care and love they need.

You could also take them out for trips to their favourite places or dementia-friendly attractions. Your local area will also have a range of activities and support groups you can attend, such as the Memory Café and Singing for the Brain schemes.

two gentleman sat eating lunch outside in the garden

Where to look for help

If you’re caring for somebody with dementia, it’s important to find out where you can access help - both for yourself and your loved one.

Sometimes you’ll need advice and expert support. At other times you might just want someone to share your worries with. Here are some helpful organisations and schemes that can help:

Alzheimer’s Society

The Alzheimer’s Society is a UK charity that campaigns for change, funds research and supports people living with dementia. You can make use of their services here:

Alzheimer's Society

Dementia UK

Dementia UK provides specialist dementia support for families, namely through their Admiral Nurse service.
    Dementia UK

    We're here to help if you need further advice

    We hope you found this guide helpful and are able to put these tips into practice. Looking after someone with dementia can be difficult, particularly if you’ve never had to care for someone with the condition before. 

    If you’d like more advice about how to care for somebody with dementia, our Dementia: Facts, Guidance and How Our Beds Help page may be of use.

    To find out how Opera could help you with your bed needs, contact our expert advisors on 0370 218 6410

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