Caring Advice for our Community

Published: 29/04/2014

Caring for someone with Dementia: The impact of the Physical Environment

Whether you are looking after a loved one with Dementia or you employ a professional care worker to help, it is invaluable to be aware of how their environment could have a positive impact. Even small changes can make big differences.

Light – As individuals with dementia often experience sensory losses with sight it is important that there is enough light. Curtains should be drawn back and light bulbs should be bright enough. Lighting in the wrong place can cause shadows, which may be misinterpreted by a person with dementia.

Floor – patterned carpets or floors which differ from one room to another can cause difficulty to the individual with dementia. This is because changes to the brain can affect colour and depth perception. A shiny floor can be perceived as water on the floor.  Inappropriate flooring could also lead to falls.

Walls – There should be a good contrast of colours that differentiate the walls from the floors. Matt paint should be used instead of gloss because of the confusing reflective properties of gloss. Light switches should be bright from the red end of the spectrum rather than the blue end. Pictures can be used on the walls to help with orientation.

Furniture - There should be a good contrast between the furniture and the walls. Glass fronted wardrobes can assist the individual with dementia to see their clothes and this may prompt their memory and remind them to get dressed. Open shelving can also be more functional, where the person can see the items that they need.

Bathrooms – a person with dementia should be able to see the toilet from their bed. A light could be left on at night in the toilet to help them to find it. A red toilet seat and red grab rails are more visually clear for a person with dementia, and therefore more functional.

Many thanks to 3SpiritUK(educational services) for use of their material.
Regular training updates for our care workers ensure that our staff understand the practical and emotional aspects of caring for people with dementia.” 
Fiona Murphy, Director Bluebird Care Watford & Three Rivers

To find out how Bluebird Care can help you or a loved one remain independent at home, please call our professional care team on 01923 775 300