How to Make Your Home Safe and Secure for Your Loved One With Alzheimer’s
Loved ones with Alzheimer’s have unique needs, and when you are caring for them in your home, part of what they need is an everyday environment that is safe and comfortable. From the inside out, you may have to make some modifications to your home to make sure it fills these needs. Use this guide as a tool to make the right modifications. Figure out how to pay for them, and how to get extra help when you need it.
How to Prepare and Make Home Improvements
Before you start making changes, think about the health of loved ones, their limitations, and behavior. Everyone is different so the modifications you make will have to fit your loved one’s specific needs. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, general changes to an Alzheimer’s patient’s brain and body that you can expect to affect his or her safety include judgment, sense of time and place, behavior, physical ability, and senses. Here are a few modifications you may need to make based on these changes:
● Outside your home – Steps are a major hazard for falls, so consider installing a ramp leading into your home, even if your loved one doesn’t use a wheelchair. Other outdoor hazards to be aware of are any plants that cover walkways, pools and hot tubs, and fuel sources like propane tanks.
● Bedroom and bathroom – Your loved one’s bedroom and bathroom should be on the main level of your home for easy access and to avoid falls. The bathtub and shower should be easy to enter so you may want to install a walk-in shower with grab bars for safety. Grab bars should also be installed next to the toilet, and you should make sure to have mats anywhere there could be slippery surfaces. Install locks on any drawers or cabinets that hold medicine, cleaning supplies, or electrical appliances.
● General safety concerns – In any living spaces where your loved one will spend much time, you may want to install wall-to-wall carpeting that is low-pile because it is the easiest and least hazardous surface for walking. Be cautious of fire hazards in the kitchen and consider installing safety knobs on the stove.
How to Budget for Home Improvements
These home modifications can make a major dent in your budget, but there are several options available for financial help.
The four main types of financial assistance available are low-interest loans, home improvement grants, free labor provided by nonprofit organizations or charities, and equipment loans that some organizations make. Some states have disability assistance programs for home modifications, and there are also programs available to veterans, so be sure to check all options that could apply to you and your loved one.
How to Get Extra Help
There is a lot you can do to care for your loved one with Alzheimer’s yourself, but you should also be willing to seek ancillary care where you need it. The National Institute on Aging recommends starting by building a strong local support system. A local caregiver support group can be extremely helpful, both for emotional support and practical help in finding other local resources. You may also need additional in-home care, which can range from something as simple as meal service or adult day care up to a 24-hour home health aide, depending on the level of care your loved one needs. Whichever route you go, you shouldn’t try to manage everything on your own. Your role as a caregiver can be taxing, both physically and emotionally, so be sure to get the support you need.
Preparing your home to care for someone with Alzheimer’s is a big challenge. You want loved ones to continue living without feeling restricted, and at the same time, you have to make sure they stay safe. Striking this balance is tricky, but with a little help and the right modifications, you can provide the care your loved one needs right from home.
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