Alzheimer’s is an unfortunate and terrible disease that affects loved ones across the world. While this disease can’t be outright cured, it can be managed through treatment and compassion for the people who are going through it. For many, staying in their own home is a feeling of empowerment that they desire, especially during a time in which they may feel powerless. Here are just a few ways that you can help your loved ones feel happy and safe at home, and allow them to have some normalcy in their lives.
Finding The Right Home
While many people may want to live in a specific home, oftentimes the homes that have sentimental value or memories attached, aren’t always in their best interest. Alzheimer’s is most commonly thought of as a disease that affects a person’s memory, but seeing as the brain controls all motor functions, these can also frequently be impaired. This can make things such as stairs, long walks, rooms with low light, and any yard work more difficult or even dangerous.
If their current home doesn’t meet these standards or would require too much work to renovate, it might be time to consider looking for a new living space. Once you take into account all the various factors, a large one being how to know what house you can afford, you can begin your search for more suitable housing. Allowing someone to live in their own home can give them more control over the everyday decisions being made, and give them more stability in their lives. Even if the new home you find isn’t perfect right from the start, you can make smaller improvements to make sure that it’s both practical and safe.
Ensure Your Home Has Assistive Devices
There are several smaller and less costly improvements that you can make to a home to ensure your loved one is both safe and happy. Removing any hardwood floors for new carpets not only increases their grip but, should any falls occur, soften their landing. Ideally, they’d be living in a single-floor home, but if there are stairs make sure they have easy-grip handrails on both sides for additional support.
Ensuring that there’s enough light is also crucial for making their living space more walkable and safe. Installing more lights in key areas such as the bathroom or bedroom can help them avoid any potential tripping hazards and give them an increased sense of comfort. Sometimes people with Alzheimer’s are more prone to wandering off, and if this is the case, you should add additional locks to certain areas. This prevents people from getting into dangerous situations where someone else might not be present, especially if it’s in the middle of the night.
Hire An Understanding Caregiver
Finding the right caregiver for your loved one with Alzheimer’s is one of the most important aspects of their care. Their loved ones can’t be with them every second of the day, and they might need more care than their friends and family can currently provide. Hiring a compassionate and knowledgeable caregiver can help them with their day-to-day tasks and make them feel more accomplished. In addition, this also reduces the time they spend alone. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), older adults who spend more time alone were associated with “a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke” in addition to other health risks.
Being a caregiver can be a tough and stressful job. There are a lot of aspects of the caregiving profession that vary based on the age and stage of the person being cared for. It’s important to learn more about caregiving so you’re knowledgeable enough to find the right options that work for you and your loved one. Looking into the wide range of in-home care services can help you better understand both what’s available, and what is more suited for your situation. From companion services to skilled nursing care, there are options for everyone to make sure their loved one can be comfortable and healthy in their home.
Lean Into The Use Of Technology
Technology has advanced leaps and bounds over the last several decades, and many of these advancements can be beneficial to people with Alzheimer’s living at home. Something as simple as using a phone to set a timer, or allowing them to record reminders for themselves. These tools will help keep them on track and they will be more likely to accomplish what they need to. Online calendars are great ways to help them visualize their day and schedule reminders to be sent before an event. Automatic pill dispensers are a great tool for people with Alzheimer’s to make sure they’re taking the right pills at the correct time.
For items that are often misplaced, attaching a locator device can be a quick fix. Many of these can emit lights and sounds to find the missing object, or can be tracked online if the distance is a bit greater. A smart device is another great piece of technology to add to a home. The device can not only “learn” to recognize certain voices in order to better serve their needs, but help them adjust the lighting, sound systems, thermostats and more. Technology is a great way to make sure older adults are being as safe and healthy as possible.
While living at home with Alzheimer’s may require a little more work, it certainly is manageable for many people. Instead of being put in a home or a place where they have less freedom and control, living in a house allows them to feel more at ease. With some additions and adjustments, many people with Alzheimer’s can live happy and healthy lives in the comfort of a more familiar environment.
Written by: Kayleigh O’Reilly, Smart Strategies Staff