Guest Post by Carla Lopez
If your loved one has Alzheimer’s Disease, you know that significant changes tend to come as the disease progresses. Not only can this make it difficult to get into a normal life routine, but it can also pose problems with home safety.
However, if you take certain measures and make the necessary home adaptations, you can keep up with the changes and ensure your loved one is able to live safely and comfortably in their own home. Check out this practical guide.
Understanding the Challenges
Before you make any plans or modifications, it’s important to understand how your loved one’s disease impacts their safety. For example, Alzheimer’s can affect their judgment, which is why it is common for people with the disease to forget how to use certain appliances and devices.
Those with Alzheimer’s are also prone to wander and get lost around their home because their sense of time and place is not what it once was. Maintaining balance and problems with hearing, vision, and depth perception are common as well.
Assessing the Situation
Evaluate your loved one’s home to get a plan together for the modifications you should arrange to accommodate their needs. First, discern whether their current home can be modified. Is the home adaptable, or will it cost too much time and money to make the necessary changes?
If you and your loved one decide that it isn’t practical for them to remain in their home, one option is to move them into yours, especially if you both want to put off a move to memory care just yet. Ask yourself a few questions first, however, so you know this is the right setup for you. How does this situation make you feel? Do you have time to take on a caregiving role? How will this affect your family? Will it affect me financially? If you decide that it’s the right move, you will want to put the pieces in place for a smooth transition with minimal stress.
If you decide to have your loved one move in with you, you’ll already be facing quite a bit of change, so one way to simplify the process and cut down on stress is by enlisting the help of professional movers. Luckily, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Simply search online for “moving companies near me” and browse ratings and reviews, then request a quote in advance. This will also free up your attention so that you can focus entirely on your loved one’s well-being, rather than fretting about and struggling with each box and piece of furniture.
While hiring professional movers is a justifiable and worthwhile expense, remember that with another person living in your home and another mouth to feed, you will likely have to find creative ways to cut down on monthly expenses. That could mean canceling subscriptions you never use, dining out less or tackling a bigger payment such as refinancing your mortgage. For example, by taking advantage of lower interest rates right now, you can quickly refinance your home and see a lower mortgage payment to help free up cash that you can put toward updates.
Precautions in the Kitchen
Perhaps the most useful step you can take to maintain a safe kitchen for your loved one with Alzheimer’s is to invest in appliances that come with an automatic shut-off feature. Adding stove knob covers or removing the knobs from the stove can also prevent your loved one from harm, as can securing any prescription drugs and sharp objects.
Precautions in the Bathroom
The bathroom is a common place for accidents for people experiencing cognitive decline and impaired balance. Consider installing grab bars, a walk-in tub, and/or a shower chair so that your loved one can maintain their personal hygiene and remain out of harm’s way.
Adding Extra Lighting
Because people with Alzheimer’s often deal with vision problems, they can become disoriented when the levels of light in a home change. You can help your loved one stay safe and comfortable in their home by installing additional lighting in hallways, stairways, entries, and other areas where the lighting fluctuates. Also, consider putting in nightlights in the bathrooms, bedrooms, and hallways.
Upkeep in the Home
Finally, try to keep your loved one’s home clean and decluttered. And regularly check the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and other safety devices to ensure that they are in proper working order. It’s best practice to replace the batteries at least twice a year. Furthermore, make sure you have access to fire extinguishers, and consider installing sprinklers to add an extra layer of protection.
As your loved one’s Alzheimer’s progresses, it’s essential that you make the changes necessary to their living environment. Learn about the challenges they are facing, and determine whether the best path forward is to modify their current home or move them into yours. Follow the tips above for creating a safe and comfortable home for your loved one, and keep researching other modifications and precautions that can make life easier and safer.
Carla Lopez retired a couple of years ago, but she didn’t lose her entrepreneurial spirit. She created Boomer Biz for retirees like herself who still have a desire to work and achieve. The site is a resource for people in their golden years who want to start their own business or go back to work doing what they love.
Photo by Matthias Zomer on pixels.com