Supporting comfort and belonging for people living with dementia

This guide was created to support team members in assessing senior living environments and discussing opportunities to create a sense of comfort and belonging for people living with dementia, particularly those who repeatedly attempt to exit.

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This guide was created to support team members in assessing senior living environments and discussing opportunities to create a sense of comfort and belonging for people living with dementia, particularly those who repeatedly attempt to exit.

People usually attempt to leave their environment because:

  1. Walking, exploring and being curious are natural to humans.
  2. Something in the environment is distressing them and they are trying to get away from it
  3. Something in the environment is missing and they are trying to find it

This framework does not consider the above to be symptoms of dementia, but rather expressions related to environmental, interpersonal and operational factors that do not meet someone’s needs. The presence of dementia may increase the person’s distress, but it is rarely the root cause. “Wandering” is a common label used to describe adults living with dementia; however, some people may simply be responding to the limitations of their environment.

It is important to help create feelings of comfort and belonging in one’s living environment. Gather a group of team members and use this guide to look at and assess the living spaces in your home. The following sections include topics to consider that may contribute to personal expressions. Attending to these factors could greatly reduce residents’ discomfort.

This guide can be used in all living environments, whether people living with dementia are living separately or alongside people without dementia and in either secured or unsecured living areas.

As you explore the various living spaces in the area where you work, remember to use all your senses and consider features of the living space that could be affecting residents.

Date created: 2021

Authorship

This guide written by Laura Aguiar B.A.Sc. & G. Allen Power M.D., Schlegel Chair in Dementia Innovation.

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