How to Create a Safe Home for Someone with Alzheimer's
by Gary Sattin on Sep 21, 2022
If you’re living with a loved one that suffers from Alzheimer’s, there are a number of changes that you’ll need to make in your home. Their way of living is different than it used to be, and they require special care to compensate. Actions that were once simple are no longer common knowledge for these individuals, and you’ll want to be sure to properly adjust the environment they live in.
This task likely isn’t going to be one that you’ll be able to complete in the span of time that it takes to watch a movie. Your loved one’s safety, however, is more than worth the time and effort you’ll be putting forward. We’ve created this guide with both you and your loved one in mind, and we hope you can benefit from it. Below we outline the different ways in which you can prepare a safe home for someone with Alzheimer’s.
The First Steps
There are a few things that we recommend you do before you actually start implementing changes. By carrying out these tasks, you’ll find that you’re better equipped to get started.
- Evaluate your loved one’s habits and their specific needs. No one will know better than you how they react to certain circumstances and what they can and cannot comprehend. Though there are steps that everyone can follow, there are others that will benefit some more than others.
- Talk to their doctor and ask for their recommendations. They’re likely to have input regarding the way in which you should prepare their environment. They may also be able to give further insight on what things may make your loved one react to situations the way that they do.
- Conduct a full inspection of your house and list out what may affect your loved one and what is going to have to be done to ensure their safety. It’s best to have a checklist of everything you have to get done so that you don’t forget anything important.
List out Emergency Numbers
We recommend that you list out various emergency numbers and make copies to put around the house. One or two in each room will be helpful not only for you, but for your loved one should they need it. These numbers can include:
- Your own number
- The local police department
- The local fire department
- Poison control
- Your loved one’s doctor
- A few additional ICE numbers—family members or friends
Make Clear Paths
One of the most important things that you can do is to make sure that there are clear paths all throughout the house. The area should be easy to navigate and present no tripping hazards. There should be no clutter and nothing that could cause them to be unsure of how to reach their destination. Additionally, we recommend against having any furniture with sharp edges that they may walk into.
If necessary, you can map out the paths to places your loved one may want to go with colored masking tape. Encourage them to follow this as they navigate their home. You may also consider putting glow tape on the edge of each stair on a staircase.
Not even the absence of tripping hazards will completely prevent your loved one from tripping. You’ll want to be sure that certain areas of the home have handrails installed. We recommend placing these at stairways and inside of their bathroom—next to the toilet and inside of the shower is ideal.
Remove Locks from Doors
You’ll want to avoid the chance of your loved one become locked into a room, making you unable to reach them. Avoid this risk by removing the locks from any rooms that they’ll frequently use, such as their bedroom or bathroom. You may, however, install a lock on your own door if you have any items that may be dangerous for your loved one should they access it.
Use Locks in Other Places
While you want the areas that your loved one frequents to be easily accessible, this won’t be the case in every occasion. For example, you may want to install locks on drawers and cabinets that contain potentially dangerous objects. These include items such as medications, knives, or matches and lighters.
Have Enough Light
At night especially, you want it to be easy for your loved one to turn on and off lights. Make sure that you have lamps and light switches in areas that are easily accessible. We also recommend having nightlights throughout the house that you keep on for the entire duration of the night.
Go Through the Fridge
It’s important that you make sure that you’re regularly going through your fridge and pantry in order to make sure that all expired food has been disposed of. Dementia patients may not check these dates or be able to recognize when food has become spoiled. As such, it’s important that you keep a careful eye out.
Check the Batteries on Alarms
While everyone should be doing this in the first place, you should be extra diligent when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. Set reminders for yourself to test and change the batteries every few months or so. If any potential danger presents itself, your loved one may not be alerted to this fact until they hear the alarm.
Have the Walls and Floors Separate Colors
We recommend not having too similar of colors on your floor and the walls. Anything that will help your loved one differentiate where one thing begins and another ends is a good thing. There are sure to be moments of confusion, especially as the disease progresses, and gestures like this one will help make the process. as easy as possible.
Have a Walk-In Shower
We can’t recommend using a bathtub when it comes to the safety of an Alzheimer’s patient. This can cause unpleasant falls as they may have difficulties getting over the wall of it. You’ll have the best luck if you have them use a walk-in shower, as these are low risk. We would also suggest installing a mat onto the floor of the shower in order to prevent falls.
When you live with an individual that has Alzheimer’s, your priority should be not only their safety, but their comfort as well. This ranges from the bed they sleep in to the clothes that they wear. One thing that many who struggle with Alzheimer’s experience is incontinence. If that is the case, you should make sure that this fact does not detract from their comfort. TotalDry is the solution to this common dilemma. From standard to plus sized incontinence products, we carry everything you may need.