Taking care of a relative or loved one with Alzheimer’s disease requires patience and plenty of planning. As such, it’s very important to make your home a safe, loving, and comfortable environment for them. Thankfully, you are not alone — there is help available.
Small Adjustments
Many of the changes your home needs will be small. For example, you should always have a fire extinguisher on hand and anti-skid pads in each shower. It will also be necessary to remove rugs or secure them to the floor. Shuffling feet catch easily on loose wires and carpeting that has not been tacked down, so pay attention to what’s on your floors.
Unfortunately, this disease progresses and does cause confusion. Given this, use simple patterns on flooring and choose colors that don’t conflict. Anything that could be toxic should be locked away, including medicine and chemical cleaners. Lastly, label where things go, and avoid moving them around; keys should go in one drawer, stationary in another. This way, your loved one is more likely to remember where things are and can clearly see when they get confused. If you need further help, there is an app that can aid you in designing a dementia-friendly home.
Larger Remodels
Not every change will be as easy as organizing clutter. Safety should be your main thought when remodeling your home. Some adjustments can be done yourself, such as installing grab bars in the bathroom. However, you may need assistance with putting in a ramp at your entryway. Think about the future as well, as your loved one’s needs are going to change. They may be fine bathing themselves now, but in a year or two, could struggle. It will be wise to put in a walk-in shower so you will be ready should they need physical assistance. As well, lowered toilets and sinks can make things easier for those with reduced mobility. Besides physical decline, your loved one may begin to wander in future years. Locks aren’t enough, so ensure that doors and windows are alarmed. With these changes, they are more likely to stay safe.
If you haven’t already, you may need to invest in some basic tools to help you out with these remodels. For example, if you don’t have a trusty hammer or a good measuring tape, you’ll need these important items before you begin any projects.
Look into Ancillary Care
You may not be able to be home 24/7. Yet, it can be unsafe to leave those suffering from dementia alone. Hiring professional help is a way for your loved one to have company and not feel isolated. These individuals offer basic support and are trained to communicate with those who have Alzheimer’s. This work is usually hourly based, and costs vary from state to state. The median price is a little over $20 per hour, with a minimum of two to four hours per session. Even if it is just a few sessions a week, ancillary care can boost how your loved one feels.
Help with Funding
All of the costs of help and remodeling may seem overwhelming, but there are options. You may qualify for a government or private grant to ease the financial strain of making additions to your home. There is veteran support, Americorps, and the Red Cross. If you have a lower income but don’t otherwise qualify for help, contact ModestNeeds. The Travis Roy Foundation, meanwhile, aids those with disabilities to add modifications necessary to live safely in one’s home. Just know that there are options available to you.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s will not be an easy journey for anyone involved. Your loved one is going to have to grapple with many challenges, and you will need to adapt both your life and home to meet them. Remember, you do not have to face this future without support. Together, you can both get the help you need to lead fulfilling lives.
Mr. Cline is a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, so he knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be.