Learning About Home Health Care Techniques

Color And Light: Decorating For Dementia Or Alzheimer's Patients

by Karl Bryant

More people are remaining in their homes longer as they age thanks to the assistance of their loved ones and at-home medical care providers. There are many benefits to this choice, but there are also safety concerns. This is especially true for people with memory loss. One of the biggest issues that Alzheimer's and dementia patients have is with their vision. In addition to the common concern of reduced vision due to aging, memory loss patients also suffer from diminishing senses and visual perception. A few simple changes in the home's lighting and color schemes is often all that is needed to make the environment safer for them.

Adjust the Lighting

Bright light therapy is something that many people associate with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This condition occurs when there are fewer hours of daylight and can lead to insomnia and depression. Many memory loss patients are affected by these same problems. To prevent these symptoms and to help your loved one remain on a comfortable schedule for waking and sleeping, it is vital to keep the home properly lit. Fill the home with natural light during the day. Keep all curtains and blinds open and spend at least a few minutes each day outside in the sunshine whenever the weather cooperates. In the evenings, close off the windows and provide soft, but adequate, ambient lighting.  The use  of small lamps and accent lights can eliminate shadowy corners and keep the lighting even through each room. It is necessary that enough light is available for them to find their way around safely, but lighting that is too bright may be over-stimulating. 

Use Color Wisely

Solid color in bright shades placed against contrasting colors makes items stand out more for people suffering from memory loss. A white sofa set against a blue wall or a black dining room set in a red dining room is visually interesting and easy for them to see. Install an over-sized light switch and outlet plates in a contrasting color from the wall to make it easier to find the light switch or where to plug in the vacuum. A white table with a dark basket that holds their TV remote, eyeglasses, or other important items is easy to spot and remember.

Remember the Floor

The flooring is an even more important consideration than the walls because of the risk of tripping. Floors should also be a contrasting color than the furnishings so it is easy for the individual to identify where the floor ends and the furniture begins. Another important tip is to remove area rugs. Not only are these a potential hazard for tripping or slips and falls, but they are often difficult for someone with a memory disorder to perceive correctly. A large dark rug can look like a hole in the ground. Patterns may look like a rough patch on the floor or an obstacle they are going to fall over. A single floor color throughout each room will make them feel safer while walking. 

Avoid using only white or pastels that may make the home look too sterile or institutional. It is possible to still keep the warm and friendly atmosphere a home should have while improving safety. The choice of colors is the most difficult issue because there are differing opinions of what works best. In the end, the best choice is usually what colors the individual prefers.