By Caroline James
Image via Pixabay by stevepb
January 2, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) -- Alzheimer’s is a disease that drastically affects a senior’s ability to live out their golden years in their own homes. Many affected by Alzheimer’s find it necessary to move into an assisted living facility in order to live safely. However, there are a number of ways you can help your aging loved one remain in their home rather than uprooting and moving into a specialized facility.
Home modifications are one of the first steps you should take to help your loved one remain safe, happy, and at home. Here are a few great projects to get you started.
The biggest symptom of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, meaning a patient may forget how to work everyday items or where to find things they need within their homes. Large, easily-read labels throughout the house can be an extremely useful modification for seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Consider investing in a label maker and marking everyday items your loved one will need to find and use on a regular basis. This includes instructions on household items such as stoves and microwaves (assuming they are not already well-marked).
Modify Key Spaces for Use While Seated
Many seniors struggle with fatigue, meaning a few hours spent standing in the kitchen can be very difficult. Areas like this should be modified to be useful while sitting. Lowering counters, organizing with lazy susans, installing a hose into the sink, and lowering the microwave are just a few options to consider.
Upgrade the Bathroom
The bathroom is one of the most dangerous places for a senior to be in their home. There are many hard surfaces and a higher chance of slipping, tripping, or falling, so it should be one of the first rooms you modify. A few simple additions such as grab bars near the toilet and bathtub, a shower chair, and plenty of non-slip bath mats can help to minimize the risk of slips and falls in the bathroom.
Dim lighting is a leading cause of falls in seniors. Vision declines for many people as they age, and a dimly lit area in the house creates the perfect environment for trips. The best thing to do is swap traditional incandescent bulbs for something brighter and place new fixtures in poorly lit areas.
As memory loss begins to affect your loved one, it becomes all too easy for them to forget that last, dark step or fail to remember setting a book down in the hallway. Good lighting is critical to safety in seniors.
Spend a Little Time Organizing
Decluttering the home is one of the best things you can do to make your loved one’s life easier. Too much clutter or badly organized areas in the home can make finding necessary items next to impossible. By clearly organizing and possibly labeling spaces such as closets, bookshelves, and pantries, you are making it much easier for your loved one to find needed items despite memory loss. While you’re organizing, be sure that other affairs are in order. For example, make sure someone other than your loved one with Alzheimer’s is informed about where important documents are kept, such as your home’s deed or your loved one’s birth certificate. That way if something were to happen to you, you can be sure your loved one will be well taken care of in your absence.
With a few modifications and some help from a visiting nurse, your loved one is perfectly capable of living at home until they see fit to leave. Many people are not able to hang onto their homes until the very end, but your efforts can certainly give them many more happy years in the home they cherish.