The day-to-day challenges of providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s are continually evolving. Today, the difficulty might be frustration with the lack of ability to communicate effectively. Tomorrow, it could be wandering and wanting to go “home.” There can be sleepless nights if sundowning is an issue, or aggressive actions and words originating from seemingly nowhere.
Through all of it, Alzheimer’s safety at home is key, and that begins with ensuring the home environment is conducive to the distinct needs of someone with Alzheimer’s. A great starting point is to take a quick walk-through appraisal of your home to look for issues such as tripping hazards (cords, clutter, loose throw rugs, etc.), insufficient lighting, or the unsafe storage of hazardous items (cleaning products, knives, etc.).
- Use labels. Labeling frequently-used items, either with words or pictures, often helps jog the senior’s memory and increase independence. Affix labels on the cabinets and refrigerator to specify what’s inside, in the bathroom with simple details about the morning routine, as well as on the senior’s dresser drawers and closets.
- Contrast colors, but reduce busy patterns. Using contrasting colors, for example, a white plate on a red placemat, helps reduce visual confusion. In addition, know that bright patterns may lead to overstimulation, or increase hallucinations and delusions, as the older adult may, for instance, envision bugs moving across a busy pattern on the bedspread or rug.
- Pay attention to doorways. Keep any doors securely locked that may result in harm for the older adult, such as the door to the garage or basement, and also the front/back entryway doors. But leave other doors in the house open, so that the older adult can easily navigate through the rest of the home.
- Place photos purposefully throughout the house. Pictures of family and friends and happy memories that you can point to and talk about together often helps 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 easily accessible. The television remote, cups and other utensils, a favorite pillow or blanket – anything the older adult would like to have on hand often – should be left somewhere front and center for the person to identify easily, or, kept in a labeled location to minimize frustration.
- Install a raised toilet seat, non-slip mats, and grab bars. In the event that you don’t currently have these safety items set up in the bathroom, now is the perfect time to reduce the threat of falls.
Morning Glory Home Care’s knowledgeable care professionals are available to perform a walk-through of your house as well and make additional suggestions to increase comfort and safety for someone with dementia. Reach out to us at 618-667-8400 to find out more about our top-rated home and dementia care in Edwardsville, IL and the surrounding communities.