A new and tidier setting: how does environmental clutter affect people with dementia’s ability to perform activities of daily living?

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Background: The relationship between the physical environment and the person with dementia’s (PwD) activities of daily living (ADLs) task performance is controversial. Although the general assumption is that this population benefits from their home environment when performing ADLs, very few experimental studies have been conducted to date. 

Objectives: The aim was to investigate the influence of the environment (home vs. Research-lab) and the role of clutter on ADL performance. Methods: Sixty-five PwD were evaluated with a performance-based ADL assessment (at home and clutter-free Research-lab). Paired t tests compared ADL performance and level of clutter in both environments. Multiple regression analysis investigated factors associated with better ADL performance. 

Results: Overall, PwD performed better at home even though clutter was significantly lower in the Research-lab. When stratified by dementia stage, PwD in the moderate stage of the disease performed better at home. 

Conclusion: Absence of clutter in the Research-Lab did not appear to play a beneficial role in ADLs. When stratified by dementia stage, only PwD in the moderate stage appeared to benefit from their home environment when performing ADL tasks. Future studies are required to elucidate the wider role of the environment in supporting engagement in daily activities in different dementia stages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-341
Number of pages7
JournalAlzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders
Issue number4
Early online date16 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Activities of daily living
  • Clutter
  • Dementia
  • Environment

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