The daily dilemmas of providing care for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease are constantly changing. Today, the challenge might be frustration because of the inability to communicate effectively. Another day, it might be wandering and trying to go “home.” There can be sleepless nights if sundowning is a factor, or aggressive actions and words originating from seemingly nowhere.
Through all of it, safety is key, and that starts with determining if the home environment is conducive to the unique needs of someone with Alzheimer’s disease. A great initial step is to take a quick walk-through assessment of your house to look for issues such as tripping hazards (loose throw rugs, cords, clutter, etc.), inadequate lighting, or the dangerous storage of hazardous items (cleaning products, knives, etc.).
Put into action any or all of these home modifications for the elderly:
- Use labels. Labeling often-used items, either with words or pictures, can help jog the person’s memory and enhance independence. Attach labels on the cabinets and refrigerator to designate what’s inside, in the bathroom with straightforward details about the morning routine, as well as on the older adult’s closets and dresser drawers.
- Contrast colors, but reduce busy patterns. Using contrasting colors such as a white plate on a red placemat helps in easing visual confusion. In addition, keep in mind that bright patterns may lead to overstimulation, or increase delusions and hallucinations, as the senior loved one may envision insects moving across a busy pattern on the bedspread or rug.
- Pay attention to doorways. Keep any doors properly locked that may lead to harm for the older adult, such as the door to the garage or basement, as well as the front/back entryway doors. But leave other doors inside the house open, so that the senior can easily navigate through the rest of the house.
- Place photos purposefully throughout the home. Pictures of loved ones and happy memories that you can point to and talk about together may help a senior loved one see the home as a positive environment, and also function as a distraction when needed from challenging behaviors or moods.
- Keep commonly-used items readily available. The television remote, cups and other utensils, a favorite blanket or pillow – anything the senior loved one would like to have on hand often – should be left somewhere front and center for the person to spot easily, or, kept in a labeled location to reduce frustration.
- Install an elevated toilet seat, non-slip mats, and grab bars. If you don’t currently have these safety items in place in the bathroom, now is the perfect time to reduce the risk of falls.
Compassionate Nursing Services’ skilled care professionals are available to perform a walk-through of your house as well and to make additional suggestions for home modifications for the elderly to improve comfort and safety for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Reach out to us via our online contact form, or give us a call at 314-432-4312 for more information about our trusted home and respite care in Oakville and and the surrounding communities.