How to Decorate a Memory Care Room
If you’re assisting a loved one with their move to a memory care apartment, you’ll likely want to make it as warm and comforting a setting as possible. With the right dementia-friendly design, you can create a space that could encourage better days for your loved one. To help you begin, we’ve outlined some of the most helpful memory care decorating ideas for their new apartment.
Memory Care Decorating Ideas
- Bring in Familiar Items
Photos of loved ones, long-held furnishings, even a favorite chair can instantly help the space feel more like home and help your loved one feel a sense of ownership of their residence. Photos can help spark conversation and connection with visitors and caregivers, so choose meaningful images of people with whom your loved one had a strong relationship or snapshots from important moments in their life.
- Heighten Contrast
Normal aging can cause the lenses in the eyes to thicken and yellow, which reduces seniors’ ability to detect subtle contrasts in their environment. It may also desaturate the look of colors, softening even the brightest hues. For those with dementia, this blending of colors can lead to more confusion and disorientation. When selecting items for a dementia-friendly design, look for every opportunity to create a strong contrast with solid colors to help create an easily understandable space. For example, you might place a brown chair in front of a white wall.
- Limit Busy Patterns
People with dementia may perceive strong patterns as moving objects. Additionally, while contrast between a solid-color object and its surroundings can help the object stand out for the person with dementia, strongly contrasting patterns, like black and white checks, on furniture or surfaces can become confusing. Darker parts of the pattern may look like they have more depth than lighter sections, leading to complications and uncertainty. Try to stick to solid colors for furnishings and finishes.
- Skip the Throw Rugs
Throw rugs can become an unnecessary tripping hazard. While the traction of a rug is better for stability than slippery hardwood floors, unadorned carpet is ultimately the best choice for the resident’s safety.
- Light It Well
According to the Dementia Services Development Center, people over age 75 require two times more light than the recommended standard to see satisfactorily. And people living with dementia require even more attention paid to lighting — they’re served best by even lighting throughout a room. Dark or shadowed areas may be seen as threatening or ominous.
Natural light is another important consideration in dementia care. Windows can help your loved one stay better attuned to their circadian rhythms. “Sundowning” can be a symptom of time confusion caused by various types of dementia. Individuals in mid to late stages of the condition may become more confused and agitated later in the day, as the sun is setting. Natural light can help keep their body on a regular schedule and can temper some of the effects of sundowning.
- Create Shadow Boxes
Fill a shadow box — or several shadow boxes — with mementos that are important to your loved one and/or represent who they are. These display cases can house your loved one’s more breakable items, so they can still enjoy them. And if you create a shadow box that represents their life, the team members in a community will have a fuller picture of your loved one’s personality, the kinds of things they like, and the sort of life they’ve lived. All these clues can help caregivers get to know your loved one quicker and form a stronger bond with them.
- Design a Multisensory Experience
Offering people with dementia a greater variety of sensory and motor activities can enrich their everyday experience. There are many sensory room ideas for dementia. For example, you may provide a room spray of one of their favorite scents. You could put items in drawers that are safe but stimulating, like colorful pom-poms, a spiky massage ball, or boxes of dried rice or pasta. You could include a soothing sound machine in the room. Talk to team members at the memory care community to determine if there are any rules or guidelines about what can be included in residents’ rooms — their first goal will always be your loved one’s security, so you’ll want to work as a team.