Q. What are the special challenges posed by bedrooms for someone with dementia?
A. The possibility of falling while traveling from the bed to the bathroom is a big issue. That's why lighting is so important. Make sure that all lamps and fixtures have the highest-wattage bulbs possible.
Night lights are also crucial, not only for giving the care recipient a sense of security if he or she is afraid of the dark, but also to serve as a helpful beacon to guide him to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Be sure to choose a model that goes on automatically whenever it gets dark.
If you are the spouse of someone with dementia and you have always slept in the same bed, you may have to consider getting a bed of your own because of the excessive nighttime movement or incontinence of your spouse.
Rolling out of bed or falling soon after getting out of bed are key issues here. There are a few things that can be done to minimize these events.
1. Push the bed up close to a wall if the person tends to fall on the wall side.
2. Install special lightweight bed railings that you can slip between the mattress and box spring after putting the person with dementia to bed.
3. Or remove the bed frame and box spring and put the mattress directly on the floor. Getting up may become an issue, so you have to be prepared to assist every time the care recipient needs to get out of bed.
If falling is an issue after trying to get out of bed, look for modified bed railings that have sturdy handles that the person with dementia can grab to steady himself or herself and push upward.
Make sure that key items are all reachable from the bed. If too far away, the person with dementia might have to stretch to reach them and could fall out of bed. To avoid any problems, have a nightstand nearby that can hold a water bottle, TV remote control, or other necessary items.
When it comes to furniture, keep it simple. Remove any furniture that obstructs movement or becomes a place to hide food items.
It’s not uncommon for a person with dementia to become confused and misinterpret reflections in the mirror as strangers or departed family members. Should your loved one become fearful after looking in a mirror, cover the mirror, turn it around, or else remove it altogether.
As dementia increases, you may want to consider installing some type of monitoring device in the bedroom so you can hear any calls for help or unexpected nighttime activity.