Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be a complicated and overwhelming task. As a caregiver, you may worry about how to provide safe accommodations for your loved one. Thankfully, thoughtful home modifications can promote peace of mind and ease your care burden.
By making changes within your home, you can improve life for both you and your loved one. Alzheimer’s disease can impair judgement and memory while causing physical ability to decline, creating a hazardous combination. At times it can be worrisome deciding how much independence your senior can manage. However, according to PubMed Central (PMC), independence is vital to maintaining your loved one’s self-esteem and also relieves some of your caregiving burden. Thoughtful modifications will reduce risks while enhancing independence for your senior, boosting the quality of life for both of you.
The key to determining your home adaptations is to balance minimizing risk and encouraging independence. US News and World Report states that you should modify your home rather than try to modify behavior. With relatively insignificant changes you can vastly improve home safety for those suffering with Alzheimer’s and maintain their independence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are a serious risk and seniors who fall once are twice as likely to suffer another fall. Even more alarming, the number of those over the age of sixty-five who die from falls is steadily increasing. Eliminate throw rugs and carpeting to help reduce the chance of falls. Consider installing smooth surface flooring such as hardwood or linoleum to improve footing for your senior.
Bathrooms are a major concern for those with Alzheimer’s. Falls in bathrooms are very common thanks to wet, slippery surfaces. On top of that, Alzheimer’s patients often suffer from issues with incontinence. Hurrying to the bathroom leaves them at an even bigger risk for falls. Thankfully modifications to the bathroom can greatly reduce risks. Consider adding a transfer seat to the bathing area and removing thresholds. A raised toilet seat with handrails and grab bars can be a major improvement for safety. According to CBS News, experts advise to have grab bars professionally installed; the inexpensive, do-it-yourself versions available in some home improvement stores don’t offer enough support, and it’s also important to have them installed at the proper height.
Stairs are a hazard to anyone suffering with a mobility or judgement issue. Areas around staircases, including the landings and stairwells themselves, should be well-lit during the day and at night. Sturdy railings should be in place and all pathways to and from the stairs should be free of any obstructions. If necessary, stairs should be blocked off and homes should be modified to allow seniors to live on a single floor with access to a bedroom, a bathroom and kitchen facilities.
The Alzheimer’s Society states that kitchens pose a variety of safety concerns to Alzheimer’s patients. Small appliances such as blenders, toasters and mixers should be stored out of reach. Garbage disposals should be disconnected, and household cleansers and other chemicals should be safely stowed where a loved one can’t accidentally handle or consume them. Stove knobs should be removed, and switches to turn on gas or electricity should be hidden. In order to keep seniors active in the kitchen, consider installing appliances with automatic shut-offs, timers, and motion sensors. Cupboards with adjustable heights are also a big help, so that your loved one can do food prep at a seated position.
The professionals at ImproveNet note that the average cost to remodel a kitchen is $19,589. This is no small chunk of change, but you can’t put a price on safety and improving the quality of life.
Throughout the Home
Doors leading to outside should be installed with deadbolt locks so that your loved one can’t wander off. Also, widening halls and doorways can boost accessibility, lowering chances for tripping and allowing for mobility assistance devices such as walkers and wheelchairs.
Home Improvements Mean Life Improvements
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming. However, modifying your home can boost independence and safety. By making some changes to reduce risks, you can improve quality of life for you and your loved one.