The progressive dementia associated with Alzheimer's disease is traumatic for patients and their loved ones alike. If you have a family member or other loved one suffering from this condition, your home can provide a nurturing, safe environment up to the point that full-time memory care or other professional assistance is required. Here are some things you can do optimize your home for your special resident.
Easier Bathroom Navigation
Trips to the bathroom may be challenging even in the early stages of the disease, especially at night when light levels are low. Remove all trip hazards and keep a light going in the hallway to minimize the risk of getting injured or lost en route. Equip the bathroom with support bars and other helpful assistive devices. As the condition progresses, you'll want to take your loved to the bathroom on a predictable schedule each day; this will help prevent accidents.
A Separate Space
While your loved one may only require some simple home modifications in the early stages of Alzheimers, later stages will make him less independent and capable of navigating around the house. At this stage you may want to reserve an entire section of the home for his use. This area may be an existing area in a large home or an addition designed specifically with the loved one's needs in mind. Whether you're building a new space or fixing up an old one, keep the following considerations in mind:
Dressing and Eating
Dressing and eating are not just important for establishing a normal and dignified routine -- they're also critical for maintaining optimum health and wellness. Fortunately, you can help these routines along simply by laying out your home in an Alzheimer's-friendly fashion. For instance:
Even if your loved one needs no help actually getting dressed, you can make it easier for him to select the appropriate clothes. Alzheimer's sufferers don't always dress according to the season or weather, which can raise their risk of getting sick. Try laying out the correct clothes for your loved one each day or moving them to a particular part of the closet.
Alzheimer's sufferers may not recognize symptoms of hunger or thirst on their own, or they may note them and then forget them in the time it would take to get to the kitchen. You can help them respond to their needs more immediately by serving them meals and snacks in their room at pre-set times. Put a water bottle in a visible place and keep it topped off with fresh water for round-the-clock convenience.
Even the way you keep your kitchen can make a difference for a loved one with Alzheimer's. Replace unhealthy snacks on the counter with healthy ones such as fresh fruit. Reserve the most prominent shelf of the fridge for your loved one's favorite (healthy) foods and a full pitcher of water.
Dealing With Social Occasions
Alzheimer's sufferers can easily become overwhelmed by crowds, noise, and motion. This is an issue not only in taking your family member out to social gatherings or public places, but also in planning social visits in your home. The holidays can prove especially challenging as emotions come to the fore when dealing with visiting family members. Methods for making these social interactions more comfortable can include:
Caring for someone with Alzheimer's can be exhausting and overwhelming even under the best conditions, so don't hesitate to seek help from within your family or from a home health care service. When your loved one is ready to go to an assisted living center, you'll know you gave him some wonderful extra quality of life!
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