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How Positive Environments Dramatically Affect Alzheimer's

Jennifer Wegerer
By Jennifer WegererMarch 20, 2017

Alzheimer’s disease changes how seniors interpret their environment. Names, places and people they know become unfamiliar, leading to disorientation, stress and isolation.

But creating a positive environment, conducive to a senior’s comforts and needs, can help reinforce well-being.

Creating a Positive Environment for Seniors with Alzheimer’s

As the Victorian Department of Health explains, Alzheimer’s makes seniors feel more anxiety and stress, become more sensitive to their physical and social environments, and rely more on their senses for cues about what is going on around them.

If what seniors with Alzheimer’s see is familiar and routine as opposed to chaotic and disorganized, however, they are more likely to enjoy life and feel like they belong at home.

Here are some ways residences might be equipped to help seniors with Alzheimer’s live well:

At home:

  • Have decorations in the home incorporate soothing colors
  • Have the phone near the senior at all times
  • Have the temperature suit the senior’s sensitivities
  • Keep visitors coming, because family and friends can help stimulate laughs and memories
  • Make kitchen utensils easy to locate and meals easy to prepare at the house
  • Make rooms easy to navigate
  • Remove decorations like throw rugs, if necessary
  • Use an in-home caregiver to help with cooking and shopping
  • Use music to lift and relax the spirit
  • Use simple decor to minimize distractions

In a memory care facility:

  • Have caregivers provide for the senior’s familiar routine
  • Have furnishings and spaces resemble a community instead of a hospital
  • Have meals served in smaller dining rooms and at smaller tables to encourage conversation and minimize distraction
  • Look for distinct spaces, such as an activity, art and music therapy area, or a family visiting area, which can help cue specific behaviors
  • Make sure outdoor areas are easily accessible and safe
  • Make sure residents are asked for their ideas about the design of new indoor and outdoor features
  • Make sure residents’ rooms allow for private areas
  • Make sure that medical support is offered discreetly, and that support areas are spread throughout the building

How a Positive Environment Changes Alzheimer’s Outcomes

Although it is not a cure, offering person-centered care and a positive environment can help lift seniors with Alzheimer’s.

If they can live in a positive, dementia-friendly environment, one that supports their health, independence and safety, seniors with Alzheimer’s will experience more personal control.

They are more likely to remain active and engage in activities familiar to them, which will help them live well for as long as possible.

Have you created a positive environment for your loved one with Alzheimer’s? We’d love to hear more about your experience in the comments below.

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Jennifer Wegerer

Jennifer Wegerer

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