Dementia can be scary; not only for the person living with the condition, but also for the people around them who love and care for them. Being diagnosed with dementia may leave you feeling angry, afraid, and helpless, especially because your doctor would have explained to you that dementia is a progressive disease, which means it will get worse.
We may not be able to do much about our brain cells and the effect dementia has on them, but we can do quite a bit about our surrounding physical world. We can paint walls and change our plates. We can also start labeling things and writing little notes that will help us remember, or at least help us orientate ourselves.
There are many things we can do in our home that will assist us in continuing to live there for longer - even on our own for quite a long time in some cases. Here are some suggestions of what you can do:
Dark rooms make things difficult to see. As the dementia stops us from remembering where certain items are in the house, we need to rely on being able to see things clearly. Installing a few additional lamps or ceiling lights is quick and easy, and it will enable you to find and see things quicker.
At night, you may want to consider leaving a light or two on. You may want to consider sensor sensitive lighting to trigger when needed, or using torches for orientation.
We know getting rid of your possessions is difficult and often you will be emotionally attached to them, however, making sure that you have a minimum amount of clutter will reduce trip hazards. Rugs on top of carpets are unnecessary and can easily cause a fall, so make sure you remove or clearly mark any raised flooring. You may even want to ask a friend for help or organise some home help once a week to make sure your house is clear of hazards.
It's a beautiful set, isn't it? We agree, it looks stunning and it's definitely something we would struggle to throw out ourselves. We are not asking you to either, but you may want to consider leaving these in the display cabinet while getting some plain ones to use on a daily basis instead. Plain coloured plates, for example white, on a brightly coloured (maybe green) table cloth, will definitely help you distinguish between the two.
Pictures on plates and cloths can be problematic due to the possibility of appearing real and therefore confusing. Being able to recognise the position of the plate on the table means you will see the food more easily, hence making sure your body is receiving plenty of nutrition.
Don't forget about colours elsewhere - like walls, bed sheets and rugs. Somebody with dementia may see things a lot more vividly than they are, so making it plain is the way forward.
4. Make it safe
Smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors - these are a must have. You also must make sure they are regularly checked.
If you are a classed as a vulnerable adult, the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Fire & Rescue Service will come and assess your property for fire safety for free. If you think you, or someone you know may benefit from such an assessment, contact us, and we can make a recommendation on their behalf.
5. Make lists
Lists, lists and more lists. Little notes and labels.
Make sure you write down a list of names of the people who should be contacted in case of emergency. This list can be given to your GP and to your care company if you decide to use their services.
You also may currently know where the kitchen and the bathroom are, but there may be a time when you don't so sticking a label on the doors may be very useful. Write instructions on how to use the microwave and how to switch on the washing machine. Keep phone numbers of your loved ones close by so you can ring them any time. Whatever may make it easier for you to be able to complete tasks, do it - it will make you independent for longer.
6. Create a book of memories
In reality, we should all be doing this because very often we forget the very precious memories of when we were on holidays and the nice times we had.
Make your own scrapbook with dates and photographs. Write your thoughts and feelings down, and dates of when they happened. If your condition progresses to the point of not being able to tell your story yourself, the book will be a great tool for the carers looking after you. They will be able to tell you about your life like a story.
Feeling confident in using technology? Great! Look through the internet for apps that will help you set reminders, or even scan your home to check how dementia friendly it is.
8. Ask for help
Asking for help may seem difficult, but it may enable you to stay in your home for longer. You may have friends and family around you to support you, but if that is not your preferred option, you can consider one of the following options:
* Visiting Care: Arrange for a carer to visit you once a week to start with. You should talk to your care provider about the things you expect the carer to do, like make sure you have not got trip hazards in your home and help you go through the paperwork.
If your care needs increase, you can request for additional care visits - the fact that the care provider knows you well will make it much easier to advise you on what you may need. They will also make sure you are included in social activities, making sure you do not become isolated. You can read more about dementia care with visiting services with Kemble at Home here.
* Live-in Care: If you are reluctant to go into a care home because you like living in your own home or have a dog or a cat you wish to keep close, then Live-in care will be the perfect option for you if you require support more than just a few hours a day. You can read more about dementia care with Live-in Services with Kemble at Home here.