How to Prepare a Home for Alzheimer's
Alzheimer’s disease affects over 6 million Americans, most of whom are 65 and older. It can be your grandparent, your cousin, your sibling, or even your parent who faces the diagnosis. Eventually, those with Alzheimer’s require round-the-clock care, and for many families, that means taking the loved one into their own home. Read on for tips from Cura for Care on how to prepare your home for caregiving.
Falling can be a major issue for anyone over 50. Among the older population, falls are one of the leading causes of unexpected hospitalization and death. For Alzheimer’s patients who may not exercise appropriate caution with their movements, falling is even more of a hazard.
As a caregiver, you need to look through your home carefully while asking, “What could cause my loved one to fall?” To start, look at passageways between rooms.
Make sure they are clear of debris and furniture that have to be dodged.
Make sure there are no piles of clutter anywhere in the house.
Carefully examine thresholds between rooms. Ideally, the person can move from one room to another without the risk of tripping.
Other tripping hazards are area rugs and electric cords, which should be tucked away or stapled to the wall or baseboard.
Make sure that the person’s pathways are well-lit at all times. It is particularly important that he or she be able to navigate trips to and from the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. That may mean putting up a number of LED nightlights along the passageways to these rooms.
A good place to start with home modifications is to engage an occupational therapist to make an assessment and recommendations. See if your loved one’s insurance will pay for this important facet of care.
Desirable bathroom modifications include a walk-in bath and shower and hand rails on the toilet and in the bathing area. The bath floor should be made skidproof.
Depending on the state of the person’s physical strength, you may also need a shower chair.
In the kitchen, make sure there are no opportunities for them to burn themselves. Electric stoves are better than gas burners. If you can remove the knobs on the stovetop, do so, and keep them locked away when the stove is not in use. Sharp knives and toxic chemicals should also be kept locked away.
Cabinets should be equipped with childproof clasps. If your loved one is prone to over-snacking, consider putting a lock on the refrigerator.
The route from the house to the car must also be examined. Do you have handrails on your exterior staircase? Handrails on both sides of the stairs are preferable to a handrail on only one side.
Are any stairs too high for your loved one? If your budget allows it, build a chair lift. Is there enough light at night to take the patient to the hospital in an emergency? If not, add floodlights. If you have a pool, it needs to be fenced in with a locked gate.
Loved ones are not prisoners, but in the worst stages of the disease, you will want to prevent them from leaving the house without supervision. One of the greatest dangers to a person with advanced Alzheimer’s is getting lost and falling or getting overheated or, in winter, hypothermic.
Your windows should have safety locks, especially the windows on any floor above the ground floor. You can purchase door alarms to let you know if your loved one is leaving home without an escort. As an added incentive, smart home features such as video doorbells, digital door and window alarms, and smart lights that protect the senior also safeguard your home from intrusion, and they have been shown to give a home’s appraised value a boost.
The hard truth is it’s not going to be easy to care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s.
The key will be careful planning and home modifications. At Cura for Care, we specialize in providing safe home modification recommendations for those seeking to make home more safe.
Remember: it is possible to let loved ones age in place surrounded by people they love. We'd love to help you navigate the way, so call us today at 615-522-5265 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary Shannon, along with her husband Bob, created SeniorsMeet.org to have a website that allows seniors to "meet up" and talk about topics relevant to their daily lives, with the goal of building SeniorsMeet into a supportive community of like-minded seniors. It's a pleasure to have her guest posting for us today, and we hope you'll check out her website and meet some like-minded seniors!