DIY Hacks for Dementia-Friendly Homes

As the number of older adults rapidly rises over the next 20 to 30 years, more homes will be modified to accommodate the needs of seniors who plan to age in place for as long as possible.  But families caring for loved ones at home with dementia have unique challenges to help create a safe, comforting environment that supports both the person with cognitive problems and their caregivers.  A new IKEA-inspired catalog of more than 50 DIY projects, commissioned by the Lien Foundation can help families adapt furniture and household items to better meet the needs of people with dementia. 

According to a recent post in the architecture and design magazine Dezeen, HACK CARE is a manual of tips and tricks on how to modify IKEA products to better serve people living with dementia and their family caregivers.  Dementia affects more than 50 million people; most of whom are adults over the age of 60. 

Many of the HACK projects help people with dementia remain at home longer and stay safer in their environment.  HACK CARE offers instructions on how to reinforce chairs for better stability, how to create a fidget board with household items or how to make cozy, comforting spaces to help keep people with dementia engaged and able to age at home longer.  The catalogue also includes some supplies for a DIY fidget bag and information about how light and color can influence behavior.  

Creating dementia-friendly living spaces takes a holistic approach because many people with cognitive decline also experience other obstacles such as diminished vision.  Using lighting and contrasting colors to indicate a change in floor surfaces or a step can help prevent falls and confusion.   A new virtual reality tool developed by architect David Burgher helps architects design spaces that support the needs of people with dementia in care homes, hospitals, and retirement housing. 

Learn more about home safety for people with dementia through the Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Lifestyle Caregivers online resource.  Discover new ideas for dementia caregivers to provide cognitively stimulating activities during quarantine, follow this link to Alzheimer’s San Diego.