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7 Easy DIY Home Projects for Those with Learning Disabilities and Dementia

By Olivia Wood

Many people suffer from the post-Christmas blues, and it is normal to feel a bit down after the festive season. In fact, research shows that around two million people in the UK suffer from winter depression – also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

People with learning disabilities and dementia face additional challenges that can make the winter months even more difficult. Planning DIY projects can be a great way for people with additional needs to stay positive, learn new skills, and beat the dreaded winter blues.

Here are 7 easy DIY projects to keep busy and raise your spirits during the winter months.

2 people in Painting gear

Those living with a learning disability or dementia may require some assistance, so remember to assess how much help will be required for your chosen project, and ensure all involved participate as fully as possible.

1. Paint a room

Painting is an easy, enjoyable and affordable way to inject some personality into your living space. For someone with a learning disability or living with dementia, a fresh coat of paint can transform your loved one’s interiors and create a more comforting home environment. You can buy painting supplies from your local home improvement store (B&Q, Homebase, etc) and there are lots of painting tutorial videos available online for you and your loved one to get expert painting tips.

The colour palette you choose can have a big impact on your loved one’s mood and mental wellbeing. Bestlifeonline.com states that shades of orange, yellow and pink can lift mood and boost your energy levels. A splash of vibrant colour is perfect for brightening up your loved one’s home and mood during winter.

2. Plant vegetables

Growing vegetables can be extremely rewarding and it will encourage people with learning disabilities and dementia to get outdoors and be more active. Some easy to grow vegetables include carrots, potatoes, radishes, runner beans, and onions. You can help your loved one grow these vegetables in their garden or rent a nearby allotment if they don’t have outdoor space.

Planting vegetables will also encourage your loved one to eat a more nutritious diet which will improve their physical and mental wellbeing. According to Helping Hands who specialise in dementia care, “if someone has an unhealthy diet, they can be susceptible to illnesses that can increase the effects of dementia and cause further confusion and agitation”.

So get planting your fresh fruit and vegetables now to live out a healthy and active start to 2022!

gallery wall example

3. Create a gallery wall

Creating a gallery wall is a fun DIY project that people with learning disabilities and dementia will enjoy doing this winter. A gallery wall will add style and character to your loved one’s interiors, and they are super easy to create.

You can make a beautiful gallery wall using wall art or posters. Photographs can also be used to design a unique gallery wall that can help bring back happy memories. Not only are gallery walls good for triggering lost memories, but they also look great in most rooms around the house including kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, and hallways!

4. Start a flower garden

Gardening is a fun hobby that everyone, including people with learning disabilities and dementia, can enjoy throughout the year. Planting flowers will add a pop of colour to your loved one’s garden and help you create an attractive outdoor space where they can relax. Colourful flowers will brighten up their home and garden during the cold, dark months and lift their spirits.

Spending time in the garden also has heaps of health benefits. UNC Health advises that gardening can build self-esteem, improve heart health, reduce stress, and boost your emotional wellbeing.

5. Upcycle old furniture

Upcycling is a great way to repurpose old furniture and help the environment by reducing the amount of waste going to landfills. It is also a lot more affordable than buying new items and you will have the chance to create a unique and customised piece of furniture for your or your loved one’s home.

Here are some easy upcycle furniture ideas for you to try:

  • Modernise an old sideboard with a fresh coat of paint
  • Reupholster an outdated chair or sofa
  • Use stencils to create beautiful patterns on old furniture
  • Transform old wood into rustic shelves or storage.

6. Update your decor

Simple changes to the decor can transform a living space and help you create a more comfortable and welcoming living space for a loved one with a learning disability or dementia.

For instance, throws, decorative cushions, and other soft textiles can create a cosy atmosphere in their home. Visit your local homeware retailers and charity shops, or search online for new decorative items to enhance your loved one’s home interiors.

Think about whether the look or texture of a particular fabric is comforting or stimulating. People living with dementia may like to re-use fabrics and items they already own, that bring back memories. The great thing about working with textiles is that they are easily changeable!

7. De-clutter

zen gnome in garden

De-cluttering is another simple thing you can do this winter to improve your living space. Keeping a clean and tidy home will create a more inviting and healthy home environment. De-cluttering can also have a powerful effect on your emotional health and wellbeing.

Various studies have found that clutter is closely connected to mental health and wellbeing. A cluttered environment can create feelings of confusion and difficulty in concentrating – especially in people with learning disabilities or dementia. Having a winter clear-out will lift you and your loved one’s mood and help them feel more focussed. Go through one room at a time with your loved one and get rid of any items they no longer need or want. You can donate these to a local charity store or sell them online to make some extra cash.

Summary

Many people feel sad or depressed during the winter months, especially after the festive season. Winter depression or SAD is a widespread medical issue, and it can be even more common in people with learning difficulties and dementia.

These easy home improvement projects will keep your loved one busy, lift their mood, and help them fight the winter blues.

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