The day-to-day challenges of providing care for a family member with Alzheimer’s are continually evolving. Today, the challenge could be frustration with the lack of ability to communicate effectively. Next week, it may be wandering and seeking to go “home.” There may be sleepless nights if sundowning is an issue, or aggressive actions and words which come apparently out of the blue.
Through it all, safety is paramount, and that begins with being sure that the home environment is safe considering the distinct needs of a family member with Alzheimer’s. An excellent first step when it comes to home modification for seniors is to take a quick walk-through appraisal of your home to discover issues including tripping hazards (clutter, cords, loose throw rugs, etc.), inadequate lighting, or the unsafe storage of hazardous items (knives, cleaning products, etc.).
Then, put into action any or all of these ideas that may help the senior:
- Use labels. Labeling commonly-used items, either with words or pictures, often helps jog the senior’s memory and increase independence. Attach labels on the cabinets and refrigerator to identify what’s inside, in the bathroom with details about the morning routine, as well as on the senior’s closets and dresser drawers.
- Contrast colors, but reduce very busy patterns. Using contrasting colors such as a white plate on a dark blue placemat assists in easing visual confusion, but also be aware that bright patterns may lead to overstimulation, or increase hallucinations and delusions; for instance, the senior loved one may envision bugs 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 senior loved one, such as the door into the basement or garage, as well as the front/back entryway doors. But leave other doors in the home open, so the senior can easily navigate through the rest of the home.
- Place photos strategically throughout the house. Pictures of family members and happy memories that you can point out and talk about together may help the individual see the home as a positive environment, and also serve as a distraction when needed from challenging behaviors or moods.
- Keep frequently-used items readily available. The television remote, cups and other utensils, a well-liked pillow or blanket – anything the senior would like to have on hand often – should be left somewhere front and center for the person to spot easily, or, stored in a labeled location to minimize frustration.
- Install a raised toilet seat, non-slip mats, and grab bars. In the event that you do not currently have these safety items in place in the bathroom, now is the perfect time to decrease the risk of falls.
Absolute Companion Care’s knowledgeable care professionals are available to perform a walk-through of your home as well and to make additional recommendations to enhance comfort and safety for someone with Alzheimer’s. Contact us online or give us a call at 410-357-9640 to find out more about our trusted senior in home care in Baltimore and the surrounding communities.