Alzheimer’s disease affects about 5.4 million Americans, about 5.2 million of whom are 65 and older. It can be your grandparent, cousin, sibling, or parent who faces the diagnosis. Eventually, those with Alzheimer’s require round-the-clock care, and for many families, that means taking loved ones into their home. If you are preparing to relocate your loved one with Alzheimer’s into your home, here are some suggestions to ensure you create the best environment possible to fit his or her needs.
Preparing the Home for Safety
As you prepare your home for loved ones, your number one priority should be ensuring that your house becomes a safe space for them to go about their daily life. As you and your loved one with Alzheimer’s navigate the challenges that come with the disease, you are probably well aware of some of the potential hazards your home might present, such as poor visibility and hard-to-navigate spaces such as bathrooms.
You may consider installing handrails in these tight spaces. You can also change the paint color of your walls to help provide better visibility if your loved one suffers from poor depth perception. You will also want to make sure that all dangerous items are locked away in places that your loved one could mistakenly get into. These items include: medications, alcohol, cleaning products, knives and scissors, and of course any firearms. As you prepare your home, you should follow this checklist provided by Together In This, which helps you consider everything when it comes to your home’s safety for your loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Making the Home Functional
Beyond making the home safe, you will also want to make sure that your home remains a functional space for loved ones. The more you can help them go about their daily life independently, the better off your situation will be for all parties involved. Seniors will enjoy their personal freedom, and you will enjoy not having to tend to their every need.
To make your home more functional, you can try labeling doors, drawers, and other items to help remind loved ones where they are and what they are looking for. If they are in the kitchen and are looking for the drawer with bowls, they can see the labels on the drawers and easily locate the item they need. These labels can also serve as cautionary reminders for seniors so they know that the stove is hot. You could even include instructions on how to use different appliances in the kitchen.
Creating a Comfortable Space
Finally, as you prepare your home, you will want to make sure that your loved one is as comfortable as possible. There are several small things you can do to your home that will make a huge difference. First of all, if your home is too cluttered, it can overstimulate seniors and increase their confusion and overall discomfort. Keeping your home clean and organized will put them at ease.
Next, you will need to pay special attention to the lighting in your home. While natural lighting may seem like a positive for Alzheimer’s patients, the movement of the sun can lead to unpredictable shadows and glares that can disorient them. To avoid unwanted glares in the morning and evening hours, you should have heavy curtains or blinds ready to block out the sun, and have plenty of lamps to gradually fill rooms with just the right amount of light that’s comfortable for your loved one.
Having your elderly loved one with Alzheimer’s move in with you is a big change that requires plenty of planning and forethought. By following these simple steps, you can help ensure that your loved one is able to live comfortably, easily, and safely in your home.
After her Mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Lydia Chan struggled to balance the responsibilities of caregiving and her own life. She founded AlzheimersCaregiver.net as an online resource for fellow caregivers and seniors. In her spare time, Lydia writes articles about a range of caregiving topics.
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