The home of someone living with dementia may have become cluttered because of a change in habit i.e. they prefer to keep their possessions where they can see them rather than store them away and risk not being able to find them or because they have lost the ability to look after their living space.
I wanted to share my experience of working with families in the early stages of dementia to create a safe living environment for longer independent living
Difficulties of Living in A Cluttered Environment
Living in a cluttered environment can make day to day living more difficult and confusing for someone with dementia.
It may cause:
- Increased anxiety and stress from not being able to find what they need
- Increased confusion as useless things become mixed up with important items
- Increased risk of tripping as it becomes more difficult to differentiate one object from another
- Increased hygiene risk as it’s more difficult to clean a cluttered space
- Increased fire risk making emergency access more difficult
The Importance Of An Uncluttered and Simplified Home
Creating an uncluttered and simplified home can help to increase the chances of someone living with dementia to maintain independence for longer, in a safe environment. They can continue to perform daily tasks and avoid situations which may cause confusion.
In early dementia it is common for an individual to mislay items around the home and become upset about not finding the things that they need.
I have worked closely with my clients’ adult children or carers to create a new simplified living environment. This can be a stressful and emotional time for everyone. I have found that it works better if the changes can be made in the early stages when they are more likely to understand the need for it. At this stage they can be involved with the decision-making process of where to keep key items and making decisions on which items are important to keep and those that they no longer need.
Blissfully Organised’s Top Tips to Create an Uncluttered and Safe Living Space
Create a decluttering and organisation action plan for each room. The objective is to create a safe and comfortable living space. Understand the items that are important to them and their daily routine – medicines, keys, toiletries, clothing and kitchen essentials (their favourite mug etc). Once you know which items are essential you can start to eliminate unnecessary items. Simplifying the number of items will make it easier to find what they need, i.e. in the kitchen you can reduce the number of cups, plates, cutlery, glasses to the minimum required. In the bathroom you can simplify the items to have one of each, i.e. shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush, soap, hairbrush etc.
A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING
Designate fixed locations for everything in the home, i.e. medicines, glasses, keys etc.
Agree where key items should be stored in each room.
FREQUENTLY USED ITEMS
Keep frequently used items in view i.e. utensils in the kitchen or toiletries in the bathroom.
Never simply move things without communicating its new home. This can cause a great deal of stress.
LABELLING CAN HELP
You can label drawers or use photos so they can more easily find what they need in cupboards without having to have everything in view.
My clients are often reluctant to let things go because they feel that it may be useful one day or is wasteful to throw it away.
I find it’s very important to reassure a client that the things that they no longer need will be recycled to a valuable new home.
If you need further advice or support on decluttering and organising the living space of a relative in the early stages of dementia please do not hesitate to contact me.
I would love to support you.