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Living well at home with dementia

Helping a person with dementia to live at home is not always easy, and can require planning and ingenuity. Depending on the individual and the stage of their illness (mild, moderate or severe) practical strategies can reduce confusion, increase comfort and enhance independence, and some useful tips are:

In general:

Keep the home environment familiar, this requires less mental processing

Use slip resistant surfaces

Make use of natural light to aid orientation

Keep the temperature comfortable

Reduce glare from shiny surfaces which can cause confusion

The lounge room can be especially problematic:

Minimise clutter, clear a path to the armchair

Use contrasting colours and avoid patterns

Reduce over-stimulation from the TV etc.

In the kitchen:

Label drawers and cupboards

Consider a gas cut off switch

Allow person to help with simple, safe tasks like washing vegetables, cleaning or setting the table

And in the garden:

Keep hose and gardening tools tidy and tucked away

Consider security measures such as locked gates if needed

Use the outdoors to reorientate the person

These are just some of the many ways we can make home life easier for the person with dementia and their carers. An occupational therapist can greatly assist in finding the right balance for each person.

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