Happy March! This month I am happy to share my blogging platform with a guest writer, Paul Denikin.
Paul reached out to me a couple of months ago and asked if he could share some tips on a subject that had grown close to his heart. Aging parents and Alzheimers Disease. As the daughter of baby boomers myself and the daughter-in-love of a Parkinson’s mover and shaker, I was interested in hearing what he had to say.
For those of you in Paul’s position, I think his article will strike home. For those of you who do not find themselves caring for ailing parents…yet. I hope that you will read anyway and tuck his tips and tricks in your back pocket for the future.
I firmly believe that we have a responsibility to those who go before us and those who will follow us. Let us do as Ghandi advises and be the change we wish to see in the world…or as Jesus said before him, “Do unto other as you would have them do to you.”
For more information on Paul and his site, please visit www.dadknowsdiy.com or feel free to contact me with any questions or ideas for future posts.
I remain your friend and design fanatic,
Adding someone with Alzheimer’s disease to your home presents special challenges. It’s important to provide safety and security. At the same time, you want your senior to enjoy as much independence as possible. With thoughtful modifications, you can create an environment that promotes quality of life for your loved one and peace of mind for you.
Understanding the challenge. Your senior’s abilities can be dramatically affected by Alzheimer’s disease, making your home into a field of landmines instead of a safe haven. The Alzheimer’s Association points out that people with the disease can forget how to use household appliances, they can become lost in what used to be familiar areas and they can be confused easily. Those with Alzheimer’s can also experience a loss in the ability to maintain physical balance, along with deterioration of vision, hearing, depth perception and sensitivity to temperature.
Home assessment. By making a thorough home assessment, you can gauge what areas of the house require immediate modification and what changes can wait. Go through your home and look for areas of concern. This would be dimly lit walkways, uneven surfaces, potentially slippery flooring, areas containing dangerous materials, stairwells, entryways and appliances. Some alterations are very simple and you can do quickly. For instance, you can install locks in discreet locations on your home’s exterior doors and windows, and if your loved one is prone to wandering, add an alarm system to alert you when doors are opened. Pay particular attention to areas where your senior may stumble onto chemicals, cleansers, sharp objects or tools, such as garages, basements, bathrooms and the kitchen. Secure hazardous items and monitor your senior when in close contact with those items.
Visibility. Enhance the lighting in walkways to bedrooms, bathrooms, stairwells, entryways and doorways with additional fixtures and brighter bulbs. Add nightlights in the hallways to and from the bathroom and bedroom for your loved one. Another suggestion is to add highly contrasting colors to improve visibility, such as between floors, walls, furniture and fixtures. Also choose simple patterns over busy ones for flooring, furniture, and linens.
Accessibility. In bathrooms, add grab bars around the toilet and bathtub. Install a ramp to the entrance of your home if there are steps involved, and try to arrange for a one floor living situation for your senior. If your senior must navigate stairs, one recommendation is to add sturdy railings on both sides of the stairwell. This is a reasonably simple DIY, just ensure your railings are properly secured and at appropriate angles. Use proper tools to make your work easier; for instance, a good tape measure is worth its weight in gold.
Phone safety. The National Institute on Aging recommends putting your home address with a list of emergency numbers next to telephones throughout the home. Also, note that people with Alzheimer’s can be victimized by telephone scammers. You should set up an answering machine when you can’t take telephone calls, and have it answer on the shortest number of rings. Have the ring set to a low volume to avoid confusing your senior.
Funding assistance. If you need to make significant changes to your home environment to keep your senior safe, you have several funding options. You might qualify for a low-interest loan, a home improvement grant, or equipment loans to offset costs. There are even services that provide free labor. Also, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can challenge you in other ways. If you need assistance with medical expenses or with daily care for your senior, consider settling a life insurance policy to cover costs. Think outside the box to find ways to manage your burden and help your loved one.
Safe in your home. Considerate changes are the key to making your home safe for someone with Alzheimer’s. Check your home for hazards, make sensible alterations and get help when you need it. Your home can be a safe haven for your senior with smart modifications.