CCI Huronia Newsletter, Spring 2018 Issue
Is your home ready to care for your loved one with Alzheimers Disease?
If someone you love has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, know that you’re not alone. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5 million Americans are living with the disease. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and kills more people every year than breast and prostate cancer combined.
Many family members of those with Alzheimer’s become family caregivers in order to avoid placing them in a nursing home. Fifteen million Americans provide unpaid care to a family member or loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. When the disease progresses, you may not have a choice but to put him or her into a place where they can receive full-time care. But until then, you can have them live with you with just a little extra planning.
You may need to modify your home and lifestyle in order to create a safe space for your loved one. He might have trouble navigating your home because it’s a space that’s somewhat new to him. So before he moves in, consider making some modifications.
- Pick up any rugs or clutter from the floor that could cause a falling hazard.
- Cover your outlets with child-proof covers to prevent electrocution.
- Lock up medications, over-the-counter meds and alcohol.
- Put away any chemical cleaners where he can’t get to them.
- Lock up garages and basements that have hazardous tools in them.
- Get rid of or lock up any weapons or items that could be used as weapons. Alzheimer’s patients can get confused and think a family member is an intruder.
- Lock up all sharp objects, including kitchen knives.
- Simplify your home as much as possible. Make sure walkways are clear and open for better movement.
- Put locks up high on doors so he can’t reach them.
- Consider getting an alarm system installed so that you will know if he leaves the house in the middle of the night.
- Remove locks from interior doors, such as the bathroom, so that he can’t lock himself up inside.
- Mark the edges of steps with brightly-colored tape so that he has no trouble seeing them.
- Take down mirrors. Mirror images can confuse someone with dementia.
- Lower the temperature on your water heater to prevent scalding.
- Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
- Add child-safety locks on stove knobs, or remove the knobs.
- Be careful with small pets, like dogs and cats. They can be a tripping hazard.
- Add a seat to the shower and add a raised seat to the toilet. This will help him better take care of himself.
Consider getting your loved one a service dog. Dogs are being trained to help Alzheimer’s patients in many ways, including making sure he gets home when he forgets where he lives, reminding him to take his meds, reminding him to eat and drink water, and much more. A dog will also ensure that he gets exercise, because the dog needs to be walked. That will also lead to more human interaction when he meets people on the street. If the patient wanders from the home without his dog, the dog can even search for him by his scent. Having a service dog can give dementia patients a bit more independence and reduce the potential for depression.
When your loved one moves in with you, don’t forget to take care of yourself and get respite care when you can. You don’t want to allow yourself to get burned out on being a caregiver. Be sure to spend some time with your loved one. Enjoy the lucid moments, and you’ll appreciate this special time you’re spending with him.