Preparing Your Home for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Guide

White house with black accents

The variety of Individuals dwelling with Alzheimer’s continues to extend quickly. Alzheimer’s illness impacts about 6.5 million Americans, about 4.7 million of that are 75 and older. Anybody could be identified – a grandparent, cousin, sibling, and even your mum or dad. Finally, these with Alzheimer’s require round the clock care. For a lot of households, this implies bringing the liked one into their very own house. 

To create the most effective atmosphere for the one you love, your house will seemingly should be up to date. Whether or not you reside in a single-story condo in Sacramento, CA, or a two-story home in Pittsburgh, PA, this information covers some essential changes to think about making while you’re making ready your house for a liked one with Alzheimer’s. Do not forget that each house and occasion of Alzheimer’s illness is completely different, and desires will fluctuate from household to household. All the time seek the advice of your physician about the one you love’s particular wants and challenges. 

Conduct common house security assessments

Whereas the one you love resides at house with you, a house security evaluation is an particularly essential process. “As the one you love ages, there are particular hazards in your house that you could be not have seen earlier than. To keep away from harmful accidents, it’s essential to conduct common house security assessments,” states Robert “Kim” Lee, President of the house well being company, Flourish in Place in Orlando, FL. “An entire and correct home safety assessment ought to embrace assessing fall danger, including crime prevention measures, buying medical alert gadgets, and creating a strong security plan along with your family members. You can too enlist knowledgeable’s assist to advise you on senior house security steerage and help with any particular house modifications.”

Work with knowledgeable

In-home care companies supply varied ranges of service to suit your circumstance. In-home caregivers will help with day-to-day duties like cooking and grooming, whereas additionally making certain the one you love is secure of their house. Or, on days while you’re unavailable, an elder companion can spend time with the one you love to prevent social isolation.

“As we age, there are new issues for us to think about as our our bodies and minds don’t all the time do what we wish,” says Jessica Hawk, Co-founder, VP, and Director of Love Right Home Care Referral Agency in San Diego, CA. “When limitations develop into a difficulty, it’s essential to be open to assist, whether or not from members of the family or outdoors sources like hiring a caregiver or assistant. In any other case, each day duties can start to pile up.” 

“Caregivers also can assess well being modifications and supply assist and ideas that can make life simpler and safer whereas providing bodily help if wanted,” continues Hawk. “They’re typically the eyes and ears for members of the family that don’t reside shut by, providing peace of thoughts understanding their liked one is effectively cared for. Individuals want individuals – we’re not meant to do that life alone.”

Grandfather and granddaughter playing cards

Analysis your monetary help choices

It’s true that the upfront prices for home improvements and modifications can shortly add up. “Getting older in place applications are important in serving to the aged stay safely of their properties. This will embrace modifications of the house from including ramps, rails, seize bars, walk-in tubs, and widening entrances,” says Polish Care Services, a caregiver company in Farmington, CT. However, it’s no secret that transforming prices can shortly add up.

“Fortunately, if the venture is completed by means of knowledgeable and certified service, there could also be funding out there to assist seniors subsidize these modifications,” states Polish Care Companies. Assets and applications can appear to be house enchancment grants, tools loans, and low-interest loans. As well as, there are different applications that provide monetary assist like Medicare Benefit, Non-Medicaid Authorities help and Medicaid HCBS Waivers, Veterans applications, and non-profit organizations. 

Discover assistive expertise

Know-how also can assist streamline on a regular basis duties and foster independence. “When caring for a liked one with Alzheimer’s illness or associated dementia, it’s essential to judge the protection of the general house,” shares Peter DeMangus, chief advertising officer at Solterra Senior Living, with communities in Chandler, AZ and White Mountain, AZ. “Right now, greater than ever, many out there sources can present in-home expertise to seniors that suffer from cognitive decline. This expertise contains treatment reminder dispensers, accident sensor alert techniques, and wander guard merchandise.”

One instance is Telecalm, a dementia-friendly telephone service that helps family members keep at house longer whereas stopping phone-related issues. It helps empower households to cease undesirable incoming and outgoing calls, late-night calls, repeated calls, 911 abuse, and fraud calls so the one you love could be assured that the one calls they obtain are good calls.

Hold any doubtlessly harmful home goods out of attain

Drugs, kitchen and loo cleansing provides, alcohol, razors and different sharp objects, tobacco merchandise, firearms, lighters, and different doubtlessly hazardous objects could be harmful for somebody who resides with Alzheimer’s. You’ll want to safe these hazards in a locked location.

Retailer your hearth extinguisher someplace simply accessible to you however to not the one you love. Examine the smoke detector and sustain with recent batteries as wanted.

Man and kitten

Upgrades for the house’s exterior

Set up a ramp

Even when the one you love isn’t in a wheelchair, steps are sometimes more difficult to navigate and pose a major tripping hazard to somebody with Alzheimer’s. Place landings on the high and backside of the ramp and railings on either side. The ramp itself ought to be reflective and textured, particularly in case you reside someplace susceptible to icy winters or wet summers. Be sure that walkways have sufficient traction to assist stop slipping.

Clear up the landscaping

Trim again any shrubs or vegetation which will intrude upon the walkway or porch, particularly prickly ones. Go for low-maintenance landscaping, and don’t overlook so as to add exterior lighting close to pathways and stairs to keep away from journeys and falls.

Take into account posting a “No Soliciting” signal

It’s clever to hold a “no soliciting” signal close to your entrance door to assist protect your loved one from a scam. As a result of the illness impacts the cognitive talents essential to discern a stranger’s true motivations, individuals with Alzheimer’s are sometimes well mannered and trusting of strangers, making them weak to manipulation. Scams can are available many types – from unsolicited house upkeep individuals or pretend utilities representatives – so it’s greatest put preventative measures in place. 

Set up discrete door locks and alarms

These identified with Alzheimer’s are sometimes susceptible to wandering, so chances are you’ll must take extra measures to safe your house. Take into account putting in a home security system and place exterior door locks someplace unusual or out of attain. That method, if they’ve a very tough day and try to flee out of confusion, it’ll be more durable to stroll out the door. You can too strategically place a wind chime to behave as an alarm in case the one you love will get overzealous making an attempt to get out. And, be certain the one you love doesn’t have entry to automotive keys.

Woman and daughter spending time together

The one you love’s bed room

Present a bed room that’s non-public and safe

Relocating the one you love to your house is a major life change. This may be particularly robust for these with progressed circumstances, who could have hassle understanding the place they’re or who you might be. It could actually get overwhelming, they usually want a comforting place to retreat, so offering a non-public however safe bed room is important. 

Give the one you love a room on the primary flooring

If attainable, the one you love’s room ought to be on the primary flooring with easy accessibility to a rest room. You possibly can convert an unused workplace or formal eating room in case you don’t have any spare bedrooms. Give the one you love the courtesy of a working door and skip the lock. 

If this element upsets the one you love, guarantee them you’ve spoken to the whole household about respecting privateness and that nobody will barge in uninvited or unannounced until it’s an emergency.

Go for carpet within the bed room

It’s greatest if the bed room has wall-to-wall, low-pile carpeting as it will likely be probably the most forgiving and supply extra flooring consistency. Add strips to the underside of throw rugs to securely fasten them to the ground to extend traction and cut back the possibilities of tripping. Wooden flooring ought to solely be handled with non-slip wax and cleaners and examined for slip danger earlier than permitting the one you love to return after cleansing.

Create an obstacle-free path to assist the one you love navigate their house simply

Keep away from low furnishings, similar to espresso tables and footrests. Go for dressers and mattress frames with out sharp corners, or cowl them with plastic bumpers.

Cabinets ought to be low sufficient to be simply accessible however not jutting into the walkway. Make sure that nothing on cabinets might fall and pose a hazard, be it a heavy ebook that might injure somebody or a knickknack that might shatter into one million sharp items.

Make the most of the one you love’s furnishings, particularly of their bed room

Shifting into a brand new place will seemingly be an emotional and complicated occasion, however you can also make the transition smoother by making it feel and appear like house. It’s possible you’ll determine to switch their mattress with a hospital mattress or one with security rails to assist with transport, however preserve the outdated pillows, blankets, and comforter to make it really feel like much less of a shock.

Take away as a lot muddle as attainable

As Alzheimer’s progresses, these impacted discover it more and more troublesome to course of their atmosphere. Downsizing your belongings will cut back the quantity of stuff to distract, and doubtlessly overwhelm, and the one you love can really feel extra comfortable and focus higher.

“Reducing the one you love’s choices is a well-liked house modification technique,” states Qualicare, a house well being care service in Toronto, ON. “Generally, too many issues to select from can really feel overwhelming. We attempt to set up clothes, so clear, matching, ready-to-wear outfits are grouped collectively – solely two or three – after which we provide them the selection of whichever one they’d wish to put on that day.”

Grandma and grandson hugging

Upgrades to the one you love’s lavatory

Just like the bed room, the one you love’s main lavatory ought to be on the primary flooring

Ensure the trail from their room to the toilet is well-lit with evening lights, and put one inside the toilet close to the door to make it simpler to identify. Once more, attempt to preserve this path comparatively simplified to scale back the possibilities of confusion and away from tripping hazards.

Ensure the toilet is accessible

Hold additional rolls of bathroom paper inside straightforward attain. You may need to contemplate including non-slip tiling to your rest room, tub, and bathe space, however make sure that any mats you utilize have safe, slip-resistant bottoms.

Security rails with textured grips, bathe seats, switch seats, and roll-in showers are additionally precious choices to make bathing safer and extra accessible for the one you love. A single lever for the tap is normally simpler to show and function than two separate knobs, so contemplate a brand new faucet head if crucial. Or, mark the taps with clear “H” and “C” labels, and preserve the sink away from all however the crucial provides.

Restrict muddle by switching to strong prints

In the event that they’re not already, swap to easy prints or strong colours to your towels, bathe curtain, bathtub mat, and different ornamental objects. If attainable, give the one you love their very own lavatory, so there’s little muddle and no confusion over which objects belong to whom.

Kitchen and eating space enhancements

Create clear pathways in your kitchen

Hold counters clear and drawers and cupboards as organized as attainable. Keep away from hanging too many issues on the fridge that might make it difficult to determine or course of for the one you love.

Label drawers and cupboards with pictures

Hold kitchen knives and different sharp utensils in a locked drawer (a baby safety-proof lock could also be enough) and cleansing provides out of attain. It could even be useful to put aside separate plates, cups, bowls, and utensils. That method, the one you love solely has to go to 1 space for every little thing. Lowering the potential for confusion, even within the smallest methods, could make a major distinction.

Double-check that your eating room chairs are sturdy

In relation to your eating house, be sure your chairs are sturdy and don’t tip simply. In case your chairs have wheels, discover a non-rolling seat that can be simpler to decrease into for the one you love. Having a chosen seat might even make eating a smoother course of as they might not want as a lot steerage from the kitchen to the dinner desk.

Take extra security measures for the oven and range

Angela V. McKnight, Founder and CEO of AngelaCARES, a group group for senior residents and their caregivers, and a mentor for educating the youth in Jersey City, NJ, recommends putting in an automated shut-off swap on the range. Discover a mannequin that switches the range off when left unattended. It’s frequent for a liked one to activate the oven or range and by no means return to test on it.

Woman pouring a glass of water

Residing space modifications

Simplify your dwelling house

It isn’t essential to sacrifice your total sense of décor, however the easier you can also make the principle dwelling space, the much less overwhelming it can really feel to the one you love. The lounge can also be an incredible alternative to include extra of their belongings. Some private touches could make the transition simpler, even when it’s a well-known blanket by the sofa.

Reduce the muddle

Eliminating muddle in frequent areas could also be particularly robust if in case you have youngsters, so embrace straightforward storage like toy chests and bins. It’s possible you’ll even need to preserve a “clear up” container to shortly collect particles, which could possibly be particularly useful if the one you love wanders independently.

Keep away from rugs or fasten them securely to the ground

If the one you love has a particular chair or spot on the couch they all the time sit in, be certain there’s a transparent path to it. Retailer distant controls someplace out of attain so that they don’t get misplaced and preserve wires fully out of the walkways.

In case you have a multi-story house, block the steps with a safe security gate

There ought to be railing on no less than one aspect of the steps, and marking the sides of every step with brightly-colored tape could make them simpler to navigate. If the steps aren’t carpeted, set up safe non-skid strips to the steps.

Place decals on sliding glass doorways

As a result of Alzheimer’s can have an effect on an individual’s notion, you’ll need to clearly determine any sliding glass doorways with decals at the one you love’s eye stage. Scale back glare in glass doorways and home windows.

“Lighting can influence people with Alzheimer’s, and protecting the blinds closed through the night hours will help get rid of reflections and shadows which will create misery,” suggests CareWorks Health Services, a house well being care service in Laguna Hills, CA. Attempt to take away ornamental mirrors — an surprising reflection can generally be misunderstood or scary.

Grandma and granddaughter reading

Ease nervousness with a well-lit house

“Non-glaring, even lighting all through the house will help ease nervousness, together with evening lights in hallways and different areas,” says Katherine Wells and Francis LeGasse of Mavericks of Senior Living, a podcast that focuses on bettering high quality of life as we age. “As you’re employed to maintain the one you love as unbiased as they are often (which may change second to second), contemplate how one can simplify the house to scale back confusion.”

Take into account changing current bulbs with LED bulbs to extend visibility, and putting in evening lights within the bed room, lavatory, and hallways. Go for wall fixtures over flooring lamps to maintain pathways clear if you should add extra gentle sources. 

Have open communication and be observant

You’ll want to preserve the one you love part of the dialog about house modifications as a lot as attainable. Hold following up after they’ve moved in to make sure there aren’t any new or unexpected points that want addressing. Nevertheless, remember the fact that the one you love could not be capable to categorical the issue, so that you and your loved ones might want to preserve an eye fixed out continually.

“Although it may be overwhelming to tackle the care and desires of another person, there are particular truisms that it’s best to bear in mind,” says Family Best Care, a house well being care service in San Diego, CA. “The primary is that everybody’s conditions are completely different, so making a custom-made plan of care and motion is essential to make sure optimum security and well-being. The second is that asking for assist doesn’t make you weak however good – whether or not it’s a trusted member of the family, good friend, or caregiver. Make the most of your sources to maximise the constructive influence for you and the one you love.”

Uphold endurance and dignity, and keep in a routine

“The one you love deserves your endurance and dignity,” states Golden Coronary heart Senior Care. “They’ll repeat themselves. They received’t bear in mind every little thing. And regularly, the phrases they bear in mind most and best are the unkind phrases. It’s essential to keep in mind that it’s not the one you love who’s being unkind, it’s the illness that’s. The individual seemingly has no management over what they are saying and the way they are saying it.”

Golden Coronary heart Senior Care goes on to share that it’s useful for the one you love to stay to a routine. “If we will preserve the care receiver in a routine of doing very related issues each day, it could develop into a behavior and subsequently considerably simpler for the care receiver to imitate.” 

Ultimate ideas

“Getting ready your house for a liked one with Alzheimer’s illness is difficult sufficient, says Dr. Jill Bjerke, founding father of Silver Spaces, a house evaluation supplier for ageing in place. “However making a ’secure and safe’ house for an individual affected by this illness means constantly monitoring the house atmosphere. Because the illness progresses, so do the hazards that may trigger hurt. Vigilance is important to maintain the affected individual secure, particularly from journeys and falls.”

The transfer will in all probability be somewhat overwhelming for the one you love, so give them time to regulate. Earlier than lengthy, the one you love will really really feel at house and adapt to the brand new routine.

Particular person outcomes could fluctuate.

This isn’t meant as an alternative choice to the companies of a licensed and bonded house companies skilled.

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