It is estimated that between 60-70% of people with dementia live at home. I think it would be fair to say that few people build a house thinking that one day they may develop dementia. There are many simple low cost adaptations to a home that can be made to support enablement of a person living with dementia. If we reframe cognitive impairment into a disability/supporting ability model, then we can start to explore what can be adapted or changed to create an environment that provides cognitive ramps to help people.
Alzheimer’s WA has been working with the WA Community Health Services across a number of aged appropriate housing projects in regional Western Australia to ensure the houses incorporate evidence-based best practice dementia design principles. Supporting people to remain at home through design and assistive technology will be a crucial response to Australia’s ageing population into the future.
Some simple ideas for changing the home can include; improved lighting, use of colour contrast to highlight items to be seen, reducing visual clutter and minimising unnecessary noise, avoiding patterns and colour schemes that may be misperceived or impact on spatial perception.