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Living at home with dementia
Living at home with dementia

Video: Living at home with dementia

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Video: Early onset dementia: Living at home with nursing support 2023, January

Living with dementia requires an adaptation of the spatial environment. Because the loss of cognitive skills makes everyday life a challenge. Read here how you can help the sick with little tricks.

Caring for and caring for people with dementia at home requires a lot of planning. However, since people with dementia feel most comfortable in familiar surroundings, a few adjustments can make life at home much easier and safer for them.

What is dementia?

Dementia describes a generic term for clinical pictures that result in a loss of mental functions. Nationwide, around 1.3 million people are affected.

The best known is Alzheimer's dementia, which accounts for around 60 percent of all dementias. So far there is no prospect of healing. People with dementia live an average of about ten years from the onset of symptoms to death. While those affected can initially mostly cope with everyday life themselves, intensive care will become necessary over time. Because with a deterioration in the sense of orientation and a loss of short-term memory, language loss also increases over time. In addition, the strong muscle breakdown inevitably leads to discomfort when walking.


Alzheimer's is the most common dementia disease in Germany and affects around 700, 000 people. The degradation of nerve cells causes memory and orientation disorders, over time those affected become more and more in need of care.

Photo: Andrea Danti / Fotolia

Living at home with dementia

Whether a patient can be cared for and cared for at home always depends on the individual circumstances. For example, if you have family members nearby or even live in a house with people with dementia, you have significantly greater scope in the design of care. It is common for people with dementia to stay in their familiar surroundings for as long as possible. From the point of view of care as well, it makes sense to look after the patients at home for as long as possible, because they know their way around best and do not have to get used to a new environment.

Location of the apartment

At the location of the apartment, you should check whether there are shops, doctors and other required service providers nearby. If this is the case, the patient can continue to drive independently for a while and is not dependent on a car. You should also inform neighbors or other roommates about the disease. This not only leads to more understanding, but usually also increases the willingness to help. In addition, the patient is left with more freedom and self-determination at the beginning, while you as a family member can be sure that the neighbors also have a view of the patient.

Barrier-free living

For people with dementia, barrier-free living is an environment that balances the cognitive and other limitations of those affected as much as possible. For example, it can make sense to carry out some conversions in the house or apartment. The bathroom in particular requires adaptation to the needs of the person over time. The shower tray should be floor-level to prevent tripping hazards. It is also advisable to integrate handles and a seat, as the patient will have difficulty standing over time. An apartment that is wheelchair accessible can make the most sense in the long run.

Barrierefrei Wohnen
Barrierefrei Wohnen

A barrier-free bathroom makes everyday life much easier and offers less risk of injury.

Photo: living4media / View Pictures

State aid

In 2012, the KfW banking group initiated a new KfW standard “Age-appropriate house”. Builders can finance 100 percent of the eligible costs in a used or rented living space with a loan of up to 50, 000 euros per living unit at loan interest of 1–2.7 percent. Accessible living cannot replace autonomy, but it helps everyone involved to maintain it for as long as possible.

more tips and tricks

Since the sense of orientation of people with dementia wears off significantly over time and they often get lost in their own home, good lighting and a contrasting design of the rooms can be helpful. It also makes sense to label cupboards and drawers with pictures or pictograms. Written language should be avoided, as the ability to read and write is also lost over time.

Life can be made easier in the respective rooms. For example, transparent doors on the wardrobe immediately reveal what is inside. This avoids a long search without success in the morning.

It is particularly common for people with dementia to find the bathroom. If pictures or pictograms do not help, you can also install a permanent light in the bathroom and hang the door so that the toilet is directly visible. Hooks or keys that can be used to lock the bathroom from the inside should be removed at the beginning.

It is also extremely important to keep dangerous items such as cleaning supplies or household cleaners in a cupboard that only you have the key to.

Special devices

There are a number of devices that offer more security for people with dementia.

Above all, the stove represents a danger zone. It is not uncommon for the person concerned to want to prepare a meal and then forget what he actually intended. In the worst case, the cooker then remains switched on and represents an increased fire risk. For electric cookers, for example, there is the option of a time-controlled automatic shutdown. The system automatically cuts off the power supply after a specified time. Irons that switch themselves off also offer increased safety.

Alarm mats are ideal for those who wander around frequently and occasionally run away. Because people with dementia lose track of time and therefore have a changed day-night rhythm, it often happens that they cannot sleep at night and become restless. Many then pull out and look for employment. So that relatives notice in good time when the sick person leaves the bed or even the apartment, it is advisable to install alarm step mats. They forward a signal to the supervisor so that he can intervene in good time.

If you want to be on the safe side, you can also equip the dementia sufferer with a locating device. If the sufferers follow their urge to move, they often cannot find their way back home. With the help of GPS, the person can be located very easily and you can observe whether the person concerned is in his familiar environment.

Who is liable for damage?

Klaus Büttner, Department Director Association of Public Insurers, explains.

Mr. Büttner, am I obliged to inform the insurer about my relative's dementia?

No, dementia does not increase the risk. Demente people are insured in private liability insurance.

Does this apply in any case?

First of all, yes, but it is essential to differentiate between liability and coverage by the insurer.

So a demented person is basically liable for his actions?

No, it's like with children. Children under the age of seven are not responsible for liability. If the child causes damage, it is not liable unless the legal guardians of the legal guardians have been violated. The insurer will then not pay.

What does this mean for people with dementia?

If the person concerned is unable to commit tort, he is not liable for his action. This is legally anchored in the BGB and does not come from the statutes of the insurers. However, this must be checked in individual cases and depends on the course of the disease. A family court, for example, must determine the incapacity to act.

So aren't the damage caused by people with dementia paid for?

This cannot be said in general. As a relative or carer, you may have to prove that you have violated your duty to supervise. Contacting the insurer certainly makes sense - even in advance. The insurer may also offer you an adjustment to the scope of coverage."

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