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dementia friendly bathrooms

How to Design Dementia-Friendly Bathrooms

Updated February 2024

When it comes to you or someone you care for living with dementia, remaining at home can support normality and independence. Adapting the home to allow for the challenges of dementia is critical to making daily life and activities safe and stress-free. 


Personal hygiene for people with dementia is a key area of life that may be more challenging to manage. A well-designed mobility bathroom can help enable you or someone with dementia to maintain personal hygiene and dignity — and continue enjoying a familiar home environment. 


In this post, we will look at some of the issues related to dementia, personal hygiene and incontinence, as well as provide practical tips on navigating them.

Dementia and Incontinence Bathroom Issues

When it comes to dementia and incontinence, many common issues may arise while at home. Some of these include:

  • Failing to respond promptly enough to the urge to use the loo.
  • Not being able to find the bathroom in time. 
  • The bathroom environment is too cluttered and confusing.
  • Not being able to recognise the toilet.
  • Lighting that is difficult to switch on.  
  • Lighting that isn’t bright enough for someone to clearly see the facilities. 

Tips to Help Make Your Bathroom Dementia Friendly

Sam Davies, the director and founder of Age Care Bathrooms, has a strong sense of purpose that is driven by personal experiences. The 2010 diagnosis of Sam’s grandad William with dementia and his grandma Barbara’s struggle with motor neuron disease brought to light the need for excellent mobility bathroom solutions. 


Sam’s experiences resulted in the establishment of Age Care Bathrooms, a family-run business dedicated to improving safety and quality of life for people with dementia, mobility limitations and chronic illness via creative mobility bathroom remodelling.


Here are 11 easy tips for dementia-friendly bathrooms that can be implemented quickly to help you or someone you care for manage personal hygiene and dementia:


1. Clearly signpost.  Help boost memory of the location of the bathroom or toilet by putting up easy-to-recognise signs pointing the way in corridors and on the door. Ensure signs are bright, clearly visible and feature both words and pictures. Place them slightly lower than you would usually, as older people often look at the floor when walking. It can also be helpful to leave the bathroom door open.


2.Light the way.  Make sure corridors are well lit. Using night lights and strip lighting in corridors and stairs can boost confidence when navigating the way to the bathroom at night. 


3. Declutter.  Clutter can be confusing for someone with dementia. Keep bathroom surfaces as clear as possible and create plenty of space around the toilet. 


4. Motion sensor lights.  A well-lit bathroom is essential. Take away the stress of finding the light switch with motion sensor lights. Position lights to reduce the amount of glare, shadows, and reflections since this can lessen the chance of falls and aid in preventing confusion.


5. Clear the path.  Move furniture out of corridors to create a clear and easy-to-navigate path to the bathroom. 


6. Contrasting colours.   Contrasting colours make specific objects easier to see. If your bathroom is predominantly a neutral colour, it can be harder to distinguish between the walls and the floor, which can cause anxiety when moving around the bathroom. Contrasting colours are especially important for the following:

  • Toilet seat.  A bright toilet seat in a contrasting colour can help someone with dementia to identify the toilet quickly. 
  • The floor.  A floor in a contrasting colour to the walls makes it easier to navigate the room and avoid bumping into the walls.
  • Doors.  Use a contrasting colour for doors to make them stand out and prevent someone with dementia from panicking because they can’t find their way into or out of the bathroom.
  • Grab rails.  Grab rails in a contrasting colour are easier to see and use, helping to ease anxiety around using the toilet or taking a bath or shower without assistance.

7. Remove mirrors.  The NHS advise that people with dementia can become very distressed by mirrors in a bathroom and other areas of the home because they may not understand it is their reflection they can see.


8. Put up a blind. Windows without a blind confuse in a similar way to mirrors when it is dark. Blinds can be closed when it gets dark to prevent reflections that may cause confusion.


9. Easy-to-use taps and controls. Ensure bath taps and shower controls are easy to use.


10. Thermostatic temperature control.  Install a thermostatic mixer valve to provide a consistent water temperature and so prevent hot water scolds or burns.


11. Non-slip cushioned vinyl flooring. Swap tiles for non-slip vinyl flooring in a mobility bathroom. Doing this can prevent falls and reduce their potential to cause serious injury. Additionally, vinyl flooring is less likely to reflect light than tiles, reducing the risk of a person with dementia being startled when walking across the bathroom floor.

How to Help Someone with Dementia and Incontinence 

Caring for someone with dementia and incontinence problems can be stressful. A few ways to help are:

  • Try to keep an eye out for indications that they might need to go to the toilet, such as fidgeting, tapping feet or getting up or down. 
  • Encourage walking around the house and —if you have one — the garden to help stimulate regular bowel motions.
  • Encourage them to take bathroom breaks every couple of hours. 
  • Suggest going to the toilet 10 to 15 minutes after drinking fluid or eating a meal.
  • Provide around eight drinks of water, squash, fruit juice, decaffeinated tea or coffee throughout the day to help prevent constipation.

Support for Carers 

Talking to other carers about your feelings can be really helpful since they understand what you’re dealing with. If you find it hard to get out, you can get support from online forums or the organisations below:

Looking For a Dementia-Friendly Bathroom?

Here at Age Care Bathrooms, we take our time to understand exactly what our customers struggle with and how to make the bathroom easier to use independently. 


When it comes to dementia, we consider the different aspects that help to make the bathroom experience comfortable and talk through all of this with you.


Our independent family-run business has created thousands of dementia-friendly bathrooms. Why not have a chat about your requirements and give our UK team a call or use the contact form below?


Contact Age Care Bathrooms to schedule a free in-home assessment. 

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