Dementia inclusive environment In order for each person living with dementia and their carer to live as independently for as long as possible, the environments need to be dementia inclusive. Creating a dementia inclusive environments can assist people to feel valued and included; they need to feel part of their community. A dementia inclusive environment is not only the built / physical environment but also the social environment. Both are equally vital to the wellbeing of the person with dementia and their carer. The built / physical environment includes outside and inside spaces such as cafes, gardens, waiting rooms, public areas. An inclusive environment can be achieved by increasing the level of natural light, colour contrast, interior design, good clear signage and easy physical access.
The social environment means the spaces for interaction. The examples below can all contribute to living better with dementia:
- providing enough comfortable spaces for both relatives and the person with dementia to interact
- having a quite area if people find it difficult to deal with a lot of noise
- staff being patient and talking clearly can all contribute
A dementia inclusive environment is designed to provide an environment that compensates for the disabilities of dementia:
- Impaired memory
- Impaired learning – problems with learning new things
- Impaired reasoning
- High level of stress
- Difficulty adjusting to the sensory/mobility impairment of normal aging
- Difficult with working things out.
Light is crucial for any older person and especially even more so for someone with dementia. Older people need approximately two to three times more light to see than a younger people. Colour perception and depth perception are affected and glare can be irritating and confusing. Therefore, letting natural light into a building by the way of large windows is essential. Contrasting colour schemes between features such as doorframes and floors can improve visibility. Clear signage helps people to orientate themselves to bathrooms, bedrooms, communal spaces and around public buildings.
Colours - As our aging eyesight fades red and yellow are the two colours that stay most vivid for longer. Therefore, a good combination for a sign would be for example a yellow background with black bold writing or logo/picture is a good combination. A red toilet seat and red grip rails can be very useful or another contrasting colour toilet seat to the toilet pan these can help a person to position themselves correctly. Adjusting and adapting does not have to be expensive you can make your own signs, menus, with the use of google images (be aware of copyright), photographs or purchase them or a combination of the two. Paint a chair rather than getting a new one or cover, be mindful the cover does not trail and cause a trip hazard.
Remember a few small manageable changes are better than no changes at all.
Dementia friendly design: Dementia Services Development Centre
10 helpful hints for dementia design at home – practical design solutions for carers living at home with someone who has dementia. By Professor June Andrews can be purchased at: Dementia Services Development Centre
To purchase signs, there are many companies including: https://www.findsignage.co.uk/ Tel: 0113 230 2046
To purchase Stimulation and activities items suitable for people with dementia: Activities to Share www.activitestoshare.co.uk Tel: 01227 362858
Active Minds www.active-minds.co.uk Tel: 0203 701 6779