Preparing Your Home For A Loved One With Alzheimer’s Disease

Photo via Pixabayhands with cane

By Lydia Chan

Watching someone you love battle Alzheimer’s disease is difficult and heartbreaking even at the best of times; at the worst of times, it can be overwhelming, especially if you are in charge of his or her wellbeing. Ensuring that your loved one is well taken care of is a big job, and many family members choose to move the person into their own home so they’ll be more comfortable and safe.

This can be a huge undertaking in itself, and it can be difficult for everyone to get accustomed to the change. Not only will daily schedules be altered, but the home will likely have to go through some changes as well. In order to ensure the safety of your loved one, it’s best to make the most-used rooms as comfortable as possible and think ahead for any possible issues. For instance, if your loved one has shown a tendency to wander, you might want to install a motion detector or security alarm on the doors of your home.

There’s a lot to think about, but with some planning, you can make your home just right for your loved one with Alzheimer’s.

Take safety measures

Keeping your loved one safe is a priority, and this means making sure all the doors in your home are well secured. A security system that sounds an alarm if a code is not entered can alert you that your loved one is wandering. Alternatively, a motion detector can be used to detect when the person is on the move. Locks should be placed high on the door. If you have a swimming pool, keep it covered when not in use; have fencing installed in the backyard for extra safety.

Make modifications

Your home may suit your needs perfectly, but for a person living with Alzheimer’s, it might be difficult to navigate. Take a look at your kitchen, bathroom, and living areas and determine whether they need to be modified. In the bathroom, a shower seat, nonslip mats in the tub and on the floor, and a detachable shower head will make facilities safer for your loved one. Updates in the kitchen may also be needed to make life easier and safer. Do some research and figure out a budget to determine which changes you can make right away.

Talk to your neighbors

It’s a good idea to talk to your neighbors and let them know that your loved one will be living with you. Ask them to contact you if they see anything of concern, such as your loved one’s walking outside unaccompanied. This can be especially helpful in the event of an emergency, when you may need assistance.

Think outside the box

It’s important to look at your home through the eyes of your loved one. This means finding and removing potential hazards—throw rugs that can cause a fall, dimly lit stairs, a kitchen full of sharp objects—and researching safety issues you may need to address. Every person is different, so think outside the box in regard to issues that may affect your loved one.

Simplify everything

It is easy to overlook how many possessions your house contains because you live there and see them every day, but such a display can be overwhelming for the person with Alzheimer’s. Having several sets of dishes, for instance, or too many shampoos and soaps in the shower can confuse a person living with Alzheimer’s and make things more difficult. Simplify as much as possible to make things easier on your loved one.

Communicate

Communicating with your loved one’s doctor and with your family members will ease the transition and ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to making sure your loved one’s needs receive top priority.

About the Author

After her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Lydia Chan struggled to balance the responsibilities of caregiving and her own life. She founded AlzheimersCaregiver.net as an online resource for fellow caregivers and seniors. In her spare time, Lydia writes articles about a range of caregiving topics

End Notes:

Photo credit:

https://pixabay.com/en/hands-walking-stick-elderly-981400/

In the bathroom:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/caregivers/in-depth/home-safety-tips/art-20046785

Figure out a budget:

https://www.improvenet.com/r/costs-and-prices/kitchen-remodel-cost-estimator

In the event of an emergency:

https://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-home-safety.asp

Removing potential hazards:

https://www.nextavenue.org/how-to-prepare-your-home-for-someone-with-alzheimers/

Simplify as much as possible:

https://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2016/07/dementia-care-11-ways-to-safe-guard-your-home.html

 

 

 

3rd Annual FORUM ON AGING—2017

Aging in Place Cumberland presents its 3rd annual Forum on Aging on November 4 from 9 am to 1:30 pm at Greely Middle School, 351 Tuttle Rd., Cumberland. Free workshops, programs, resources, and lunch for all. For transportation, please call 829-3367 or email cumberlandrides@gmail.com.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

9:00 am Doors open, Registration & Coffee Kiosk
9:00 am-2 pm Blood Pressure Readings, Vendor Tables
9:00 am Welcome: Aging in Place

  • Topic 1: Taking Charge of Your Health—Southern Maine Agency on Aging (SMAA)
    Join us for an engaging workshop where we’ll share advice, strategies, and tools that can help you take charge of your health and live better! We’ll talk about everything from movement to diet, communication skills, and decision-making to help you learn how to stay active and independent in your community. From preventing falls to managing chronic pain, we’ll explore avenues and insights that will help you do the things that matter most to you and live well!
  • Topic 2: Overcoming Caregiving Challenges —Panel members: Peter Baker, Alzheimer’s Association; Catherine Gentile, author and support group facilitator; and Kirsten Dorsey of SMAA’s Stewart Adult Day Center in Falmouth.
    Our panel of experts will discuss the challenges facing caregivers, provide advice on overcoming difficulties, answer questions, and share links to caregiver support and resources.
  • Topic 3: Advance Planning Seminar, Paul Doherty, SMAA
    An in-depth look at options when developing a plan for your healthcare at end of life; help with discussing the subject with family; and how guidance on putting a plan in place that reflects your wishes. Sign up for individual counseling sessions.
  • Topic 4: Welcome to Medicare—David Smith, SMAA. 2 hours.
    Learn how to navigate and apply for Medicare. Sign up for individual counseling sessions.

 9:30-10:30 am Breakout Session I (choose from Topics 1, 2, and 3)

10:30-11:30 am Breakout Session II (choose from Topics 2, 3, and 4)

10:30-11:30 am Balance Screening: See if you’re at risk for falling

10:30am -12:30 pm Medicare Seminar

11:30am-12:30 pm Breakout Session III (choose from Topics 1 and 4)

12:30 pm Lunch

1 pm Closing Comments

 

AIP’s Tom Gruber Honored

TomCaptions, top row, from left: Town Councilor Tom Gruber; Tom with Town Manager Bill Shane at the Community Food Pantry; bottom row, from left: Tom with State Rep. Dale Denno, also an AIP leader;  Tom, a veteran himself, transports veterans in the town’s 2017 Memorial Day Parade.
Cumberland Town Councilor Tom Gruber, whose efforts led to the creation of the Community Food Pantry and Aging in Place Cumberland, has been named a Community Champion (one of three) by Molina Medicaid Solutions of Maine! The award recognizes volunteers who have made extraordinary contributions to their community, have shown outstanding commitment to serving those in need, and whose activities have had a positive influence on the community. Winners receive a trophy and a $1,000 grant for the nonprofit organization of their choice.
 
Tom was selected based on his work with Aging in Place and the Community Food Pantry, as well as his volunteer activities with the Vet to Vet program and Southern Maine Agency on Aging (SMAA), where he is a member of the board.
 
He has arranged with SMAA to establish a fund to benefit veterans living in Cumberland who wish to attend the Stewart Adult Day Center in Falmouth.
 
The winners will be honored at a celebration to be held at the Governor Hill Mansion in Augusta on Wednesday, September 13. Join us in congratulating him on this amazing recognition!

Aging in Place Honors Volunteers

AIPVolunteersSMMore than 30 volunteers attended Aging in Place Cumberland’s first Volunteer Recognition & Appreciation Celebration at Cumberland Town Hall on May 22. Town Manager William Shane and members of the Town Council were on hand to honor the volunteers, who received certificates of appreciation and AIP T-shirts. Councilor Thomas Gruber told the gathering about AIP’s early beginnings and its growth since 2014. Karen Campbell, chair of the town’s Aging in Place Committee, and AIP coordinator Susan Gold made the presentations.

Among the programs offered by AIP Cumberland are regular social gatherings like Mornings with Friends, a home visitation program that brings Friendly Visitors to homebound seniors, and a volunteer handyman service that helps seniors with shoveling, yardwork and gardening, minor home repair projects, and pet care. AIP also collaborates with the Congregational Church in Cumberland on Cumberland Area Rides (CAR), operated by volunteers to provide rides to seniors in the community. CAR volunteer drivers provided more than 250 rides to seniors during its first year and continues to grow.

Photo Credit: Steve Thomas 

Cumberland’s Friendly Visitors Highlighted

Susan Smith, a volunteer with Aging in Place Cumberland’s Friendly Visitor program, and Liz Richter made the news in the latest edition of the Forecaster. The two women have developed a warm relationship after being introduced through the Friendly Visitor program two months ago. Reporter Alex Lear detailed their friendship in the article.

The two attend concerts together, share lunches, and enjoy talking as they spend time getting to know one another. Their latest joint venture is a 48-class course on the history and development of music, available on DVDs. They have finished three classes so far.

Susan says that Liz is “an inspiration,” while Liz calls Susan “an angel.” The program and Susan’s visits have made a “huge difference,” says Liz. “It lightens my life.”

To read the story, click here.

Click the Volunteer button to sign up as a Friendly Visitor.

Click the Request Service button to apply for visits by a Friendly Visitor.

Aging in Place Shovel Brigade to the rescue

sedgwood-shovelercropped

Jeff Howes, part of a team from Sedgwood Commons, shovels off a carport roof for a Cumberland resident during the recent snow deluge to assist Aging in Place Cumberland’s efforts to keep older residents safe.

Students in Greely High School’s Community Service Club and Greely Middle School’s Pathways program pitched in as well, shoveling and clearing ice for Cumberland and North Yarmouth residents. Volunteers worked to clear walkways, shoveled steps, refilled sand buckets, created off-road parking spots, and even pruned limbs over a walkway.

Thank you all for doing this important work and helping our older residents stay safe!
One resident wrote to express her deep appreciation. "Thank you so much for sending these guys over to help me out," she said. "They did such a wonderful job!"

To sign up as a volunteer or to register for shoveling services, please call 245-8033 or email AIP@cumberlandmaine.com.

 

Links to Forum Workshops–2016

About one hundred people came to Greely Middle School on Saturday, Oct. 29, to learn about Aging in Place Cumberland and find out more about resources available to the area’s seniors. Participants could get a blood pressure reading, do a balance screening to determine their risk of falling, and visit resource tables provided by a number of local organizations. Seniors had the opportunity to sign up for various AIP programs and to volunteer to serve their neighbors in a number of ways. Speakers talked about dementia, regional resources including the Aging in Place program to serve seniors, strategies to enable seniors to live safely at home for as long as possible, and options for senior living.
After enjoying a delicious lunch provided by Wayside, Forum participants heard an entertaining talk on the history of Cumberland by Carolyn Small of the Cumberland Historical Society.
Organizers hope the event provided Cumberland seniors with needed information and resources they can now use to improve the quality of their lives.
To view three Forum workshops, click on the title of your choice below:
Dementia & its complications   
Aging in Place Cumberland and Southern Maine Agency on Aging Resources
Understanding Senior Living Options, Part 1
Understanding Senior Living Options, Part 2