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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.
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.
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.
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
In the bathroom:
Figure out a budget:
In the event of an emergency:
Removing potential hazards:
Simplify as much as possible: