Seniors who wish to age in place in the comfort of their own home should be able to do so safely, especially those who struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. There are many modifications that can help keep a senior with Alzheimer’s safe from harm, though it’s incumbent on caregivers to oversee and implement the necessary adaptations.
Older adults with Alzheimer’s may suffer from dementia, loss of memory, and other symptoms of cognitive decline that can result in serious injury if necessary environmental changes are neglected. Caregivers play a crucial role in providing a safe home environment, so it’s essential that you understand what constitutes a potential threat to your loved one’s physical well-being.
Wide Open Spaces
Many common household objects represent a tripping threat to an Alzheimer’s patient, even items with which a senior has been familiar for years. Small pieces of furniture (stools, coffee tables, etc.) should be cleared out to create an unimpeded pathway, small rugs should be removed, and all electrical cords must be kept secure along baseboards. Excess furniture can be put in storage or given to relatives for safekeeping.
The idea is to give a senior with Alzheimer’s plenty of clear space to move around. If structural changes are necessary for some parts of the house, such as widening hallways or doorways, it will be necessary to consult with a contractor. If so, be sure to do plenty of research online, read through online guides to better understand the hiring process, read customer reviews and check certification before making a decision. And don’t forget to ask for at least three separate quotes.
Within Easy Reach
Make it as easy as possible for your loved one to reach objects that get a lot of use, such as the television remote, phone, or eyeglasses. The less that seniors have to reach for things, the safer they’ll be from slips and falls. So, think through anything that a senior might need or want during the course of a day and keep them in clear view, in familiar spots, and within easy reach.
Adjust Water Temperature
Seniors with Alzheimer’s are at risk for scalding by hot water, so make sure the water heater setting is lowered to at least 120 degrees. An Alzheimer’s patient can easily become confused and forget to make adjustments to hot and cold water faucets, which can lead to burns in the bathroom or at the kitchen sink. Lowering the water heater setting is a simple adjustment, and it will save money and reduce mineral buildup and corrosion in the pipes.
Provide plenty of lighting throughout the house, especially in hallways, the bathroom, and around staircases. Older adults tend to suffer from diminished eyesight as they age, a situation that Alzheimer’s can exacerbate in spaces where lighting is uneven and shadowy. Clear, glare-free lighting is the safest choice for your loved one. If there are places where new light fixtures can’t be placed, consider using stick-on lights or light tape, which work well along stairways or inside cabinets and closets that are hard to see inside.
You can also prevent falls by helping your loved one make simple lifestyle changes, including incorporating simple exercises that will help strengthen the lower body. (Of course, exercises should always be based on a senior’s physical capabilities.) Alternating lunges, single-leg stands, and chair leg raises are some of the most beneficial simple exercises for older adults.
Caregivers and their loved ones can have a lot of fun together with activities that help an Alzheimer’s patient stay engaged through self-expression and by bolstering cognitive functioning. Baking or cooking with simple recipes, doing basic household cleaning, and solving puzzles are excellent bonding activities that can benefit your loved one in many ways.
Alzheimer’s patients can enjoy a rewarding life aging in place with simple physical modifications that allow a senior to move around freely and without fear of injury. You can help your loved one enjoy an active and fulfilling lifestyle in the comfort and reassuring surroundings of his home with a careful and vigilant attention to detail.