Many older adults want to remain in their homes or live with family, even if they suffer from a condition like Alzheimer's disease. And with some planning and preparation, it's possible for you to help a parent or loved one with Alzheimer's disease stay in their home or yours, rather than moving them to a nursing home or memory care facility. Take a look at some tips for preparing your home for an Alzheimer's patient.
Remove Safety Hazards
Home safety is a concern for everyone, and particularly for seniors. However, patients with Alzheimer's disease face additional challenges because the disease affects their judgment, and they may not be able to detect dangers the way that another adult could.
This means that the home must not only be free of obvious safety concerns, like tripping hazards, but it also has to be free of some less obvious dangers. Things like medications, weapons, and dangerous chemicals should be stored out of reach or in locked containers. You may want to install childproof knobs on the oven or stove to prevent fires. Wandering can be a problem for patients with Alzheimer's disease, and patients who wander away from home could get lost or become injured. Store car keys in a secure location and consider installing locks or alarms on doors that lead outside.
Preparing your home for an Alzheimer's patient can feel like childproofing your home for a toddler. But it's important to remember that your loved one is not a toddler – they're an adult, and will probably want to function as independently as possible for as long as possible, just like any other adult. Therefore, it's important to ensure that you set them up for success by improving the functionality of your home.
For example, having too many choices can confuse an Alzheimer's patient. If they see 3 toothbrushes on the bathroom sink, they may get frustrated trying to remember which one is theirs. Try storing only their toothbrush in the bathroom that they use, and store the toothbrushes belonging to other family members in a different bathroom or out of sight. This can help allow your loved one the feeling of independence that comes from taking care of their own hygiene needs without having to ask for help.
Seek Out Caregiving Help
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disease that worsens over time. In the early stages of the disease, your loved one might have difficulty remembering names or where they placed certain items, but be mostly capable of taking care of their own needs. As the disease progresses, though, they'll lose the ability to do things like clean, dress, and even feed themselves.
As the disease progresses, caretaking becomes more difficult. It's important to be ready for these developments before they occur. Look into in-home caregiver agencies and other resources in your area early on, as soon as you make the decision to help your loved one stay in their (or your) home. Even if you don't need those services right away, you will probably need them eventually. Knowing where to look for help and assistance can prevent caregiver burnout.
Helping a loved one live at home after an Alzheimer's diagnosis can improve their quality of life. Make sure that you take the proper steps to prepare so that they can stay at home safely and receive the appropriate care.