Alzheimer's disease creates physical, mental and emotional challenges. Here are some tips for making your home physically safer when caring for someone with Alzheimer's.
Dec 14, 2016Menopause & Aging Well
By Paul Denikin
Keeping your loved ones safe can be an overwhelming responsibility, especially when there is a disorder involved such as Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's creates many problems, such as memory loss, functional issues, physical problems and changes in emotions or behaviors. It's hard to know where to begin in helping the person stay safe and happy.
But when a loved one with Alzheimer's comes to live with you, you'll want to start with some basic changes and small repairs that can make your home safer.
Here are some of the best tips on where to begin.
Because Alzheimer's affects memory and judgment, it's important to make the kitchen a safe space. You may consider remodeling your kitchen for safety and accessibility, but that can get very expensive. There are plenty of things you can do to make it safer that are virtually cost-free. Try to see your home through the eyes of your loved one and look for potential hazards. Consider investing in a stove that has safety features, such as removable knobs or a shutoff valve for the gas line, for example. Place knives and other sharp objects in a locked cupboard. Look around and assess the dangers, and then take action.
Alzheimer's also affects balance and depth perception, so the rooms, hallways and stairways used most frequently should be well-lit and free of clutter that could cause falls. Remove throw rugs that might cause someone to trip or slip, and make sure furnishings like floor lamps, ottomans, magazine racks, baskets and small tables are not in the walkways. Night lights or small wall fixtures are a great way to make sure walkways and darker areas of the house get some light.
Lock up any medicines and keep the counter free of clutter. Even everyday things like mouthwash and toothpaste could be hazardous depending on the state your loved one is in. Assess the situation and, if you feel they would be safer, keep those products on a high shelf or locked up. Remove locks from bathroom and bedroom doors to prevent your loved one from locking themselves in.
Consider installing a motion sensor alarm that will let you know when someone is going out a door, especially if your loved one has a history of wandering. It might also be helpful to make sure they have a medical bracelet with your information on it, in case the person wanders away.
Other Safety Issues
Paul Denikin got into DIY home repair projects after his daughter was born with special needs. His initial efforts were motivated by the desire to make his home more accessible for her. He learned everything he knows through trial and error and many helpful YouTube videos. He created DadKnowsDIY.com to share some of the great resources he's come across and to offer home improvement project how-tos and other accessibility information.