Home Improvements Are the Key to Easing the Burden on Alzheimer’s Caregivers
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Providing in-home care to a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be challenging. You want your home to be a safe haven, not a danger zone. You can provide a place of independence and security for your loved one with simple preparations and a handful of thoughtful improvements.
More people than ever are caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s not an easy task, and as time goes by and the disease progresses, the burden to caregivers can be overwhelming.
As Redfin explains, “Alzheimer’s disease affects about 5.4 million Americans, about 5.2 million of which 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.”
Here are some ideas for easing your workload and finding peace of mind.
Your loved one should have living space on one level, ideally on the ground floor. The area should include a bedroom, bathroom, and if possible, access to a kitchen. The bedroom and bathroom should offer working doors for privacy, but minus locks for safety. Some experts recommend installing safety locks on windows. Provide ample lighting, including night lights. Install bright bulbs in fixtures, and if you necessary, add ceiling fixtures instead of floor or table lamps. Flooring should be low-pile carpeting or textured tile for ease of movement. Hardwood is fine if it isn’t slippery. Eliminate throw rugs if possible, but if your loved one brought a favorite from home, you could secure it carefully to the floor. Walkways should be wide and open, free of slipping and tripping hazards.
If your home doesn’t offer at least one step-free entrance, consider installing a ramp. Ramps are far easier to navigate, even if your loved one doesn’t use a wheelchair or other assistive device. The ramp should include landings at the top and bottom and railings on both sides. The ramp’s surface should be textured for traction. If adding a ramp isn’t feasible, check steps for stability and uniformity. To ensure accuracy, use a well-made tape measure, ideally with locking capability for easier measuring. Also, trim back shrubbery and other landscaping so pathways are open. Walkways should be level and free of tripping hazards. If your loved one is prone to wandering, the doors to the home should have locks installed in unusual places, such as higher or lower than the norm. Consider adding an alarm system in case your senior should slip out.
Try to keep things as familiar as possible to comfort your loved one and limit confusion. Bring as much of your senior’s furniture into the bedroom and arrange it as similar as possible to the former bedroom. The room should be free of low furniture pieces that could be tripping hazards, such as coffee tables or ottomans. If furniture has sharp corners, cover them with bumpers.
Add a raised toilet seat, grab bars and safety rails. The faucet should have a single lever-style handle instead of round knobs. Ensure necessities such as toilet paper are within easy reach, but store cleansers and chemicals securely out of reach.
The Alzheimer’s Association recommends installing a circuit breaker or hidden gas valve on the stove, and you should consider removing the control knobs. Other appliances should have automatic shut-off features.
There are other environmental modifications you can make to improve quality of life for you and your senior. For instance, some studies show that dimming lights during meals can increase food consumption and reduce agitation. Sound machines may also help with reducing agitation by using white noise, recordings of ocean waves or other sounds from nature.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is challenging, but with appropriate precautions, you can provide independence and safety. Alter your home to provide a living environment that promotes your senior’s well-being. These changes can give you both a better quality of life.
Thank you Lydia Chan for the providing us with a great article.