When caring at home for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease, it is important to look at the house through their eyes. The general deterioration of the brain caused by the disease results in a breakdown of normal associations. Things are no longer identified as dangerous, poisonous or sharp. They are regarded merely as unfamiliar objects to be explored — knives aren’t sharp, cleaning products aren’t considered poisonous, and most anything is acceptable to be tasted. If caregivers keep this in mind, it makes it much easier to “Alzheimer’s-proof” the house, much like would be done for a toddler.
It is also important to adapt the home to accommodate the physical changes experienced by Alzheimer’s patients, including changes in vision, hearing, stability while standing and walking, and depth perception. LivHOME specialists can help you to prepare your home for the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease because they understand it, and the behaviors of those who suffer from it.
1. Be sure that all safety devices are in working order — smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, etc.
- This is good advice for everyone, but is especially important when an impaired person is living in the home. Early warning is essential to safety. A good rule of thumb is to change the batteries in all battery-powered detectors when the clocks are moved ahead or back seasonally.
2. Lock up all hazardous materials — prescription medication, cleaning products, weapons, etc.
Do not assume that these items are safe tucked under the sink or out of sight in the medicine cabinet. Curiosity is a strong motivator, and Alzheimer’s patients are just as likely to taste cleaning fluid as they are juice. Lock up medications, cleaning products, weapons and any other hazardous materials, including materials that can be hazardous if ingested improperly.
3. Make sure the home is well lit.
Aging impacts eyesight, whether or not Alzheimer’s Disease is involved. When it is, and depth perception is impaired as well, the best thing to assist declining eyesight is bright lights. Make sure that the maximum watt light bulb is used in each fixture. Remove as many shadows as possible, especially where there are stairs and thresholds. Make sure lamp cords don’t prevent a tripping hazard and that floor lamps won’t be leaned on for support.
4. Remove clutter in the home — keep things as simple as possible
We all accumulate too much stuff. Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is as good a time as any to clean out some of that clutter. Piles of paper on the counter, magazines on the floor, layers of rugs, and collections of bottles all present a dust, infection and trip hazard for the aging. Keeping surfaces in your home clean and clear will not only make a healthy home, but experts say it also contributes to a healthy mind. For the Alzheimer’s patient, it makes it easier to get around, and is a much less confusing environment.