Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease requires you to alter your home environment. As the Alzheimer’s disease progresses and worsens, it requires caregivers to adapt to changes in feeding and nutrition, activities, and your home. It can be a complex and difficult undertaking to alter your home care environment for family members not trained in elder care.
A professional geriatric care manager can help alter your home environment quickly. They understand the unique characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease and the personality and behavioral changes it can cause around the house. Most importantly, they will alter your home environment to increase safety and prevent falls. Here is how a geriatric care manager helps you care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.
Wandering is a major reason to alter your home environment.
One characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease is that it may cause the person to wander. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that three out of five people with the disease may wander. Some may wander around the home endlessly, never stopping to sit down. Others may become lost or disoriented in their neighborhoods and wander while trying to find their way home. If your loved one paces around the house, or has difficulty finding the bedroom or bathroom, you’ll want to take action and alter your home environment.
You can implement the following strategies to help mitigate this risk:
- Provide structure to the day. If your loved one feels they are doing some work around the house, like doing dishes or the laundry, they may be less apt to try to leave the house to go to work, as was their lifelong habit.
- Avoid going to busy, overly stimulating (visually and auditorily) places that can cause your loved one to become overwhelmed, and possibly disoriented, like a shopping mall.
- Place deadbolts out of reach on doors.
- Hide the car keys.
- Do not leave your loved one locked in a home, as this could be a serious safety issue, in the event of a fire, earthquake or other unexpected events.
- Purchase a medic alert bracelet or ID bracelet for your loved one with name, address, and telephone number. One good resource is available through the Alzheimer’s Association and their partnership with MedicAlert®.
- Ask a geriatric care manager to help supervise your loved one during the day and to help you conduct a home assessment to increase safety.
Home safety is important for seniors with Alzheimer’s.
Geriatric care managers can alter your care environement and address many of the risks of Alzheimer’s disease. He or she can help you to conduct a home safety evaluation and identify ways to keep your loved one safe inside. For example, falls can be prevented by addressing fall hazards including:
- Removing throw rugs that may cause a senior to trip and fall.
- Poor lighting.
- All light fixtures should have the highest wattage light bulb possible.
- Lamps should be easy to reach from chairs and the bed.
- Motion detector lights should be installed inside and outside the home to prevent falls at night or after dark.
- Stairs should be clearly marked.
- Piles of clutter should be removed from the floor and stairs.
- Footwear should always be evaluated for comfort, size, and non-slip soles.
- Non-slip sole footwear and slippers should always be worn inside.
- Lamp cords should be tucked away where they cannot be tripped over.
- Clothing should not cause a trip hazard. Pants should be the right length and women’s jackets, dresses, scarves and other pieces of clothing should not drag on the floor.
Coping with personality and behavioral changes.
Understanding the serious symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can help you cope with the personality and behavioral changes that you witness in your loved one. Alzheimer’s disease progresses through stages and each brings with it different physical, mental and emotional changes. A normally reserved, polite person may become rude and have outbursts. A person who is usually happy may become depressed and despondent. Geriatric care managers have years of advanced training and can help you understand these changes and develop strategies that may avoid behavioral triggers.
The objectivity of a geriatric care manager helps you deal with the pressures of caregiving and the emotional toll it causes. They can step in and help you when you begin to feel overwhelmed. A geriatric care manager will have extensive resources in the local community to help you with caregiving responsibilities. They can help you with transportation, housing, personal care, legal or financial issues, and long-term health care options.
Geriatric care managers are trained to help you care for a loved one. They can relieve the stress and pressure of caregiving by providing decision support, access to needed resources, and help to take action. Whether your house needs to be adapted to make it safe for a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, or you need support with the stress of caregiving, a geriatric care manager can make life easier to manage.