Across the United States, over 11 million people provide unpaid care to those with dementia and Alzheimer’s. This takes a huge toll on their lives as well as those of their loved ones. Making the care possible requires not only a big heart and a lot of effort but planning. The central element to planning well for the short or long-term care of a loved one suffering from these problems is the home. An ordinary home to anyone else can be a dangerous place for someone with inconsistent, fragmenting memory and motor skills.
Size, Design, and Lighting
The most important first step is establishing a routine for your loved one. This will help them feel safe and secure while knowing more of what’s needed of them. In doing so, you will learn their habits and this is vital for knowing how the home will work out. You can determine how much of the house they use and how. In looking at the home, you can determine if it is a safe place to live independently or if they would be better off in a new, smaller home. Downsizing can be traumatic for an elderly person, even someone without dementia or Alzheimer’s, so any move has to be carefully planned. However, on the plus side, it allows you to pick a more suitable home in perhaps a more suitable location, many come with safety and mobility features, and the price difference of a cheaper property will make it possible to pay for care and equipment for your loved one.
General Room Tips
Most importantly, once you have organized a good layout of furniture and objects, do not change it. Continuity is vital for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s especially objects from their past. It may be that invoking the distant past will be easier for them than remembering more recent things. Generally, it’s important to have memorabilia around the home, have a prominent list of important phone numbers by a landline phone, tape down rugs and carpets, ensure the floor is flat with no trip risks, remove wires from the floor, and color contrast objects and furnishings.
A Room by Room Guide
Kitchen: The kitchen presents the most risk of injury and damage to the overall home. It is easy for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia to forget they put the stove, grill, or oven on. Keep the kitchen counters clear. Consider using tough plastic plates, mats and tablecloths which are easy clean and less likely to break.
Bathroom: Ensure the floor is not shiny or slippery, use non-slip mats on the floor and in the bath and shower. A walk in bath is best. You should have grab handles, a comfortable toilet seat, prominent and easy to reach towels, and use contrasting colors to better separate objects.
Living Room: Make sure there are no wires to trip over. Increase lighting for safety and use mounted lamps and overhead lights where possible. Installed heaters are preferable to standing heaters too. Make sure the TV remote is visible and easy to reach.
Bedroom: Position the bed so it is not only easy to get in and out of but is convenient for getting to the bathroom if needed. Eliminate floor clutter to make it easier to navigate. Remove locks from internal doors.