Folks, this week we have a unique treat: a guest post from a lovely man named Paul Denikin who runs a website called dadknowsdiy.com. Paul reached out to me hoping to find a place to share some helpful DIY information for families dealing with Alzheimer’s. With the memory looming large of visiting my great aunt Gladys in an assisted living facility when she was suffering from Alzheimer’s, I couldn’t say no. After all, the world’s just a better place when we’re taking the opportunity to look out for one another.
So – without further ado – welcome to Red Pencil’s first guest blog, which is a very nice thing indeed for anyone struggling to determine how to help and house someone with Alzheimer’s. Following a recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis in his family, Paul has spent the past several months working on repair and home modification projects to ensure his loved ones will be safe in their home as they age. This blog manifests several of the things he’s learned.
Making your home safe for in-home Alzheimer’s care
Guest post by Paul Denikin
Housing someone with Alzheimer’s can keep you on your toes. As the disease progresses, many of its symptoms can lead to safety concerns. These ideas can help enhance your home’s safety while easing the caregiving burden.
Understanding the changes
Those with Alzheimer’s face deterioration in several capacities. As SocialWork Today explains, the disease causes a number of issues that affect sufferers’ ability to live in a traditional home environment. Some of the changes that can occur include:
Senses. The way people with Alzheimer’s perceive sensory input may change. This can manifest as altered depth perception, reduced sensitivity to temperature, and changes in hearing and vision.
Physical abilities. Those with Alzheimer’s may experience issues with balance and may require a wheelchair or walker.
Judgment may be impaired, making it hazardous for those with Alzheimer’s to use household appliances.
Behavior may change, causing someone with Alzheimer’s to become more fearful, suspicious, or more easily confused.
Perception of time and place. People with Alzheimer’s can get lost easily, even on their own streets. They may not recognize areas in their own homes.
Making smart modifications
Because of the issues associated with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s crucial to carefully evaluate living areas. In particular:
Some experts suggest starting by looking for areas that pose falling or tripping hazards.
Remove low-profile objects that could be easily missed by someone with perception issues, such as coffee tables, ottomans, and magazine racks.
Secure or remove area rugs.
Remove door thresholds. Those with Alzheimer’s often develop a shuffling gait as the disease progresses, so even slight flooring height changes can be hazardous.
Go throughout the house and secure or remove hazardous items, including chemicals, cleansers, weapons, and sharp objects such as knives and garden tools.
Closely inspect the kitchen, garage, basement, and bathrooms.
Put small appliances with moving parts securely out of reach.
Install locks on cabinets with potentially dangerous contents.
Remove confusing items (e.g., imitation fruits).
Look for additional ways to encourage safety throughout the home. For example:
Remove clutter and items with busy patterns that could cause confusion.
Pay special attention to stairwells by adding handrails on both sides and securing them carefully. Check that rails are solidly mounted into wall studs by using a high-quality stud finder.
Make sure steps are easy to see. You can put colored tape on stair levels or paint surfaces different colors to enhance contrast.
Another suggestion is to improve lighting throughout the home.
Keep lighting even and bright, eliminating glare. Add fixtures or brighter bulbs in areas that are dim.
DailyCaring suggests adding motion-activated lights so seniors don’t even need to flip a switch.
Consider wireless options so that you can simply install lights as needed in hallways, closets, or stairways.
If you need any electrical work done, it’s usually a good idea to call in a professional. In Denver, the average cost to install electrical switches, fixtures, and outlets ranges from $164 to $515.
Depending on your situation, more significant home modifications may be needed. For example:
Bathrooms often require grab bars (the average cost of installation is $140), non-slip flooring, and threshold-free showers.
Kitchens may require altered countertop heights.
Some experts recommend installing appliances that shut off automatically.
Paying for changes
Many home modifications are inexpensive. For more involved alterations, you may need help financing them. Depending on your circumstances, there are several government-sponsored disability grants and funding options available.
Another option is a life settlement. Selling a life insurance policy can provide funds needed for medical expenses or assistance with daily living.
You could also request a discount from your contractor. Many will adjust pricing based on income and ability to pay.
Home safety is the key
Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient in your home is challenging. Start by understanding the changes those with Alzheimer’s endure; then, alter the house accordingly. By making smart modifications, you can create a safe environment for in-home care and ease your caregiving burden.