By Lydia Chan
Photo by Neill Kumar on Unsplash
What Alzheimer’s Caregivers Can Do to Their Homes to Better Accommodate a Loved One
If you’ve chosen to undertake the full-time care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you already know that it’s going to be a tough road. Many caregivers choose to have their loved ones move into their homes with them, as this is the place where they can provide the most attentive, compassionate care. If this is what you’re planning, you should know that you can make the road a little bit easier if you make some adjustments and modifications to your home. Here’s where to start.
First and foremost: proper lighting
It’s amazing how much lighting can impact the life of an Alzheimer’s patient. As seniors age, their ability to see in dimly lit areas and their ability to pick up on subtle color contrast diminishes. This is exacerbated by a cognitive disease like Alzheimer’s. Make your home more friendly by using as much natural light as possible. For instance, open curtains instead of using incandescent bulbs. You can also simply add more lighting to your home, including more lamps. David McNair of the Dementia Center tells BrightFocus.org to use “home style lighting, such as table lamps or wall mounted lights, vs. a large overhead light” as that “might make one feel like he is in an institution.”
Clear a pathway
Your loved one should always have a clear pathway to walk. You’re responsible for keeping up with cleaning and organization. Random clutter in a home is a serious tripping hazard. You should also think about your flooring situation. Rugs are also a tripping hazard, so they should be firmly fixed to the underfloor with mats or tape. Consider ripping up any high-pile carpet you may have and replacing it with a lower-pile style. The Spruce notes that cork, vinyl, and linoleum are also solid options. Tape all electrical cords to walls and baseboards. Patients with Alzheimer’s often have mobility issues that accompany their cognitive decline.
No, senior loved ones aren’t children. But their Alzheimer’s will affect their mind in a way that makes it unsafe to give them free rein of the household and its many cabinets, closets, and drawers. It’s easiest to think about it this way: What would I do to my home if I had a child? You would childproof the cabinets containing harmful chemicals. You would lock drawers that contain knives and other sharp implements. And you would certainly secure any guns you may have in a safe. When it comes to having a loved one with Alzheimer’s, there can be some really bad days. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. AgingCare.com even suggests placing deadbolt locks at the base or very top of any exterior doors.
Consider a bathroom and/or kitchen remodel
The rooms of a home that are likely going to become less and less accessible for loved ones with Alzheimer’s are the bathroom and the kitchen. If you’re planning on caregiving until the end of their life or close to it, you should consider a remodel. According to Improvenet.com, the average cost to remodel a kitchen is $19,589, so it’s definitely substantial. A bathroom remodel will likely cost about half of that. Remodels for accessibility may include lowering/repositioning cabinets and drawers, floor replacement, and installing adaptable appliances (shower, toilet, oven, etc.).
Your road may be tough, but it’s manageable as long as you set yourself up for success in the home. Here’s one final tip. Set up some sort of relaxation/meditation space for yourself inside the home. As the Mayo Clinic notes, even the most resilient and strong among us will likely succumb to caregiver stress at some point. It’s vital that you have a place within your own walls that you can use to recharge your batteries.
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