Do Dark Floor Mats Cause Problems?

dark floor matDue to dementia-related changes in the brain, some loved ones may perceive dark areas on the floor as either a hole or a step. Caregivers have told me about a loved one jumping or attempting to “step” over a a dark floor mat by the door or kitchen sink. Not everyone will experience this, but you need to be aware of the possibility. If you notice the person tentatively walking in these areas, there is a good chance they are having perceptual problems.

“John would stand at the back door and not move. I didn’t know what was going on. Then one day as I was out the door, I told him we needed to get going. He looked at me and said he was afraid of falling into the hole and didn’t think he couldn’t jump over it! Nothing I said made a difference. He really thought the floor had a dark black hole. I replaced the mat with a lighter color that blended in with the floor and the “hole” disappeared.”

Sometimes simple changes can make a big difference.

I'm an interior designer, gerontologist, author, blogger, and most importantly, a former caregiver to my mother, Arlene, who had Alzheimer's disease.
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8 Responses to Do Dark Floor Mats Cause Problems?

  1. Paul says:

    My dad actually jumped over the mat at our door. Luckily he didn’t fall, but that was scary. And I didn’t know what he was talking about when he said he didn’t want to fall into the hole. Now I know why. Things really change when you have Alzheimer’s huh?

  2. Martha says:

    My husband had no problem with the dark kitchen mat but boy did he get confused by our living room oriental carpet. Too many swirling lines and patterns I loved that carpet but I removed it. It was just making things too stressful as he didn’t know how “to walk” on the carpet as he thought he was stepping on things. I love this blog. Not many people know how important the living space is and how much confusion and stress can be reduced by making simple changes. KUDOS!

  3. Quincy says:

    My grandma was getting anxious when we had to leave the house and I didn’t know what was going on. Well, we had a black mat at the door and I thought I would try removing it after reading your blog and her anxiety almost completely went away. (she still has to check the stove several times as she is afraid she has left it on). These small things can really make a difference. I would never have thought that the color a floor mat could make my grandma anxious. Little did I know. Thank you.

  4. Tracy says:

    Well, my sister tripped over my doormat and it wasn’t due to color. I had one of those coir stiff grassy doormats at my front and back door and they were about 1″ high – the higher the better I thought to get off dirt from shoes before going inside. But my sister was starting to have trouble lifting up her foot. So my recommendation is to make sure you have doormats that are on the thin side to reduce tripping. I swapped all mine out.

  5. Lola says:

    I have noticed that in both my Mom’s house and my Aunt’s house that they have this penchant for using scatter rugs all throughout the house? Is this a generational thing? I see it as such a potential fall hazard but I can’t get them to see it.

    • Rosemary says:

      Hi Lola,

      A lot of older people are used to living with scatter rugs as there wasn’t as much wall-to-wall carpeting back then. It isn’t always easy getting loved ones to remove the rugs, especially if they haven’t had any recent falls. I find that people are more open to change if they are genuinely afraid that they’ll fall. Sometimes I just choose one or two of the rugs that I think are the most trippable, for example, those that are located in a well-used area of the home, and I suggest that they remove the rugs and try it out for a week. If they really want the rugs back, we then put them back. It is really helpful to give everyone choices whenever possible.

      In your situation, if they’re against removing any rugs, just make sure that the rugs have anti-skid padding underneath to make their usage safer.

      Best wishes,

      Rosemary

  6. Luke says:

    Such a simple solution, Rosemary! I had never thought to change mat from dark color to light color. I love this website for its caring and practical solutions.

  7. Rhonda says:

    My Mom likes to have scatter rugs all through the house especially on top of door thresholds! I am constantly worried she may fall. Any ideas how I can gently persuade her to remove them to prevent falls?

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