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Dementia tips

4-minute read

The home environment can have a major impact on a person living with dementia. You can make the home dementia-friendly so it is safe, increases the person’s wellbeing, and helps them manage their day to day life.

The kitchen and dementia

The kitchen should be safe and allow the person to use it as independently as possible for as long as possible.

Try to keep everything familiar — don’t rearrange too many things. If an appliance needs replacing, and it's safe, try to get the same make and model. Appliances with built-in safety features such as automatic cut-off switches are a good idea. Make sure electrical cords are away from water or heating sources.

You might consider labelling cupboards to make it easy to find things, or keep commonly used items on the bench.

If the time comes when the person can no longer use the kitchen safely, then you may need to install a master cut-off switch for the stove, and take away any sharp knives, medicines and toxic products such as kerosene. Reduce the temperature of water from the hot water tap using the thermostat and keep a list of contact names and numbers in large print placed by the telephone.

The living room and dementia

The living room is usually where families spend a lot of time. Again, try to keep it as familiar and safe as possible. It’s a good place to show photos and ornaments that may trigger happy memories and reinforce the person’s sense of identity.

You might need to remove some clutter and rearrange furniture to create walkways. You might also need to cover sharp edges and stick down loose floor coverings and rugs.

Low coffee tables and other protruding furniture are easy to trip over and may need to be removed. You might also need to lock some cupboards and drawers and put covers on the power points.

The bedroom and dementia

The bedroom should help a person with dementia get into their own bed each night, and sleep there for as long as possible. It should also be as familiar as possible.

You might need to raise the bed height and use a firm mattress to help the person get on and off their bed by themselves.

If you want to use lights to make it easy to find the toilet at night, try soft night lights.

Loose rugs and mats are easy to trip on. You may need to rearrange furniture to make sure there is a clear walking path to and from the bed.

The bathroom and dementia

Any changes you make to the bathroom and toilet should make those rooms safe and should help the person be as independent as they can.

It's important to respect the person’s privacy as much as possible. You might also have to make it easy to attend to their needs for them.

You might need to label the toilet and bathroom doors, install grab rails by the bath and use non-slip rubber mats. You might also need to lock away toilet cleaning products, personal care products, shavers and hair dryers.

Think about taking any locks off the door so the person with dementia can’t lock themself in, or modifying the toilet door so it can be opened outwards for easy carer access.

Personal comfort is also important. You might consider installing a safe heater in the bathroom to make it more comfortable in winter.

The laundry and dementia

The laundry should be as simple and as familiar as possible. If you need to make changes, you might keep the benches uncluttered or label the cupboards to make it easy to find things.

If the time comes when the person with dementia can no longer use the laundry safely, then you might need to make more changes. You might take away cleaning products and any poisons, store the iron in a locked cupboard and keep the washing machine and drier turned off at the wall. Make sure electrical connections are away from possible contact with water or heating sources.

More information

You can find out more by reading the Dementia Australia help sheet about adapting your home.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: October 2018

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