Seniors living with dementia thrive in familiar environments. These individuals find comfort in objects that they recognize. Considering the unique circumstances surrounding seniors living with dementia, helping them feel secure may be accomplished by carefully decorating their memory care room.
Dementia slowly robs an individual of cognitive abilities. As a result, the senior finds difficulty in handling the activities of daily living, pursuing meaningful activities, and participating in a social life. Due to increasing dependency, care options are vital to the wellbeing of the dementia patient.
Nearly 50 million people struggle with dementia worldwide, and this number is only expected to increase. It is important to empower seniors with dementia and allow them to remain active and independent for as long as possible. Supportive environments help to achieve this end.
What’s Included in Memory Care Rooms and Facilities
A memory care room is specifically designed to facilitate everyday living for the dementia patient. Since seniors with dementia are likely to wander, memory care facilities feature alarmed doors and elevators that require a code in order to be operational. Outdoor spaces are secured with enclosures.
In a memory care facility, the physical environment should be clean and pleasant. Rather than frustrating dementia patients with dead ends, the hallways should be circular. Most importantly, individual rooms should be labeled with words and pictures to help residents find their way.
While a memory care facility is safe and structured, the rooms within it can be creatively designed to suit the needs of the dementia patient. The lived space should ideally promote identity, autonomy, privacy and, at the same time, support the preservation of social relationships.
The best memory care room will compensate for the dementia patient’s loss of memory, yet contribute to their active engagement in society. Following are elements that sustain a meaningful life in a memory care room. Also consider everyday technology and access to the outdoors and public spaces.
1. Add Natural Lighting
Ample lighting is an important element in a dementia patient’s memory care room. Whenever possible, increase natural lighting inside the room by opening curtains, trimming large outside hedges blocking the window or sunlight, and removing any unnecessary blinds or screens.
Make it a point to reduce shadows when artificial lighting is used. In poor lighting, shadows are produced. Combined with the senior’s poor vision, shadows can easily startle the dementia patient and cause him to “see” something that is not really there.
2. Choose Color Contrasting Furniture
Seniors struggling with dementia best navigate areas decorated with surfaces featuring contrasting colors. Choose furniture and fixtures consisting of distinct colors. Solid colors are ideal for couches and chairs. Position the couches in front of a window rather than in front of the television.
Similarly, hang towels in the bathroom that differ in color from the bathroom wall color. The colors of bed linens and drapes should contrast with the colors of the walls and floors. In fact, when choosing rugs for the floor, take care to avoid strongly contrasting colors.
Older adults with memory loss suffer from a lack of spatial awareness. Dark colored rugs can appear to them as gaping holes in the floor. Heavily patterned rugs, such as those with colored spots, can look like specks that require cleaning.
Avoid rugs, if possible, since dementia patients may assume the rug is an object that must be stepped over. Actions like these could lead to trips or falls. Floor colors should not mimic real objects, such as green and blue, which may be mistaken for grass and water, respectively.
3. Remove Mirrors
As dementia progresses, memory deteriorates. The dementia patient may no longer recognize himself when he sees his reflection in the mirror. To prevent startling the senior, remove mirrors in the memory room or cover them. Close the drapes at night so the senior cannot see his reflection in the window.
4. Add Sentimental Home Décor
Objects that hold significance for the senior should be included in the memory care room. Hang quilts on the wall for a senior who once enjoyed quilting. Fond memories will be recalled whenever she glances at the quilt. Identity is still important, even for a senior living with dementia.
Memory boxes filled with mementos and photos of loved ones serve a dual purpose: placed immediately outside the memory room, the box helps the senior recognize the correct room; placed inside the room, sentimental objects encourage greater comfort, rather than strangeness.
5. Create the Snoezelen Experience
Evoke feelings of peace, calmness, and well-being by implementing a sensory therapeutic technique called the Snoezelen experience (the Dutch term literally means “explore” and “doze”). Add soft lighting, soft fabrics, stuffed animals and calming lights and images to create a soothing experience.
Personalizing a memory care room helps the dementia patient continue to experience a meaningful, purposeful life. The décor inside the memory room will not slow down the progression of the disease, but serves to add comfort and security and preserves a sense of self.
Help with Memory Care
The aforementioned techniques for decorating a memory care room may be successfully applied to decorating a senior’s home. While careful attention to the décor is essential, memory care providers from Assisting Hands Home Care are just as integral to the quality of life for the dementia patient.
Assisting Hands Home Care provides exceptional Alzheimer’s and dementia care to seniors in the comfort of their homes. Our caregivers are trained to recognize the symptoms of dementia and respond with compassion and skill. We also provide nonmedical assistance with the activities of daily living.
Core responsibilities of our dementia caregivers include discreet assistance with personal hygiene tasks, meal preparation, medication reminders, transportation to doctor’s offices, light housekeeping and companionship. We also assess the home environment to ensure it is safe for the dementia patient.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Assisting Hands Home Care dementia care providers are licensed, bonded and insured so that families and their aging loved ones feel confidence. We offer a complimentary consultation to determine care needs and develop a customized care plan. We also serve the elderly living in West Broward County, Florida.