This Help Sheet suggests some ways to make the bedroom as useful and safe as possible for a person with dementia, their family and carers. Not all suggestions will suit all people or situations, but some people may find a solution to a particular problem they are experiencing in the bedroom.

The aim of any modifications to the bedroom is to help the person with dementia to get into their own bed and encourage them to sleep or rest there for as long as possible at night.

It should also:-

• Help prevent falls from a bed
• Make it easier to find the toilet at night
• Enable a person who walks around at night to do so safely
• Maximise the family's and carer's sleep


Some common barriers to independence or safety in the bedroom are:-

• Is illness or pain, cold, or discomfort leading to sleep disturbance?
• Are medications causing sleep disturbance?
• Can the person fall out of bed?
• Can the person locate the toilet at night?
• Is the bedroom warm enough?
• Is it safe to use an electric blanket?
• Are there slippery floors, mats or loose floor coverings?
• Are there any furniture obstacles in the bedroom?
• Does the person get up and walk around during the night?

What to try

• Turn back the top sheet and use two different contrasting coloured sheets to assist the person to find the way into bed

• Raising the height of the bed and using a firm mattress may assist the person to get on and off the bed more easily. Beds with adjustable height can be very helpful for transfers in and out of bed

Floor and furniture
• Remove anything that could cause the person to trip and fall such as loose mats and protruding edges of floor coverings

• If necessary, slightly rearrange furniture to enable a clear walking path to and from the bed

• Chairs should be stable. Cover or pad sharp edges of furniture

• Electric blankets can be dangerous if the person is incontinent
• Low level heating such as an oil filled radiator, can be left on all night or programmed to come on at a particular time, providing safe background heating
• Remove hot water bottles if they are likely to be a risk. Consider wheat-filled heat packs, which can be heated in the microwave oven and cannot be opened and spilled - however they must not be overheated

Depending on the individual, there are a number of different approaches to lighting during the night:-
• No lights on to remind a person with dementia that it is night time and to discourage them from getting out of bed
• Soft night lights so that they will not be disoriented if they wake and get up during the night
• Lights to guide them to the toilet during the night - perhaps a light in the toilet and the toilet door open, as well as lights in the hall leading to the toilet
• Ordinary lights on in the main rooms and outside in the garden for safer walking about
• Sensor lights in the house and garden are good for some people who walk at night, but others might find them disturbing

People with dementia sometimes experience a range of conditions in which they do not experience things as they really are. Although hallucinations and delusions are imaginary, they seem very real to the person experiencing them and can cause extreme anxiety, and even panic.

Mirrors can be disturbing because the person with dementia might not recognise his or her reflection and might believe there is a stranger in the house. Catching sight of movement in a mirror, window or glass, especially at night, could cause great agitation. If this becomes a problem, either remove the mirrors or cover them with a cloth.

Install a smoke alarm near the bedroom and use ashtrays with a little water in them.

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Did you know?

More than 60 per cent of all care home residents, aged over 65, have a form of dementia.