To the more than 5 million people with Alzheimer’s or age related dementia, getting their diagnosis was just the first step in the journey. After the diagnosis, planning for the road ahead is crucial because it is important to know how you can best care for your loved one, while also keeping them safe. There may come a time when 24 hour care is required, but staying at home can be a very helpful centering tool for someone suffering from the early to mid stages of memory loss.
In order to stay at home, there will need to be some adjustments in the house environment to keep someone with age related dementia, or other memory loss issue, from hurting themselves by accident. With a little planning it is possible to stay at home longer, which is thought to help calm and center people with Alzheimer’s.
Tips for Creating a Safe Environment
There are many things you can do to create a safe environment, which helps to keep accidents to a minimum. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, every room that your loved one can access needs to be looked at through the “eyes of someone with dementia” to give you the best chance at finding trouble spots and eliminate them.
In the bathroom, you should install grab bars in the shower, tub, and by the toilet. Use non-skid tape or mats in the shower or tub, and non-skid backing for the rugs, if the bathroom is not carpeted. You can use child proof latches to limit access to appliances and potentially hazardous items like razors. You may think about removing the lock, if there is one on the door, to prevent your loved one from locking themselves in the bathroom.
In the bedroom, consider installing a monitoring device, such as a baby monitor or camera that has sound capabilities. There are many available on the market, and it can help you to hear if your loved one needs assistance. Avoid area rugs, as they can be tripping hazards. Use non-skid strips if a rug is necessary. It is a good idea to have sturdy house shoes for your loved one, with thick, non-skid soles to protect them from slips and falls.
In the kitchen, use locks or latches to limit access to things like alcohol, knives, and other kitchen appliances. Take the knobs off the stove, or otherwise limit the ability of someone with dementia to turn on the range and oven. Remove anything that looks edible but is not, such as plastic fruit or decorations that look like food. Lock up cleaners and anything the could be toxic if ingested.
In the living room, you can reduce clutter by recycling magazines and newspapers, reducing the number of decorative items and furniture, and keeping cords and small items out of the walkways. If you have a fireplace, don’t leave your loved one alone with an open flame. Put decals on glass doors or large picture windows, to help your loved one see the glass.
In the garage and yard, restrict access to electric appliances and other assorted tools. Lock up hazards like chemicals, lighters, and flammables. Lock all vehicles and keep the keys out of reach. Trim plants that block walkways, and level out walkways if possible.
Tips for Keeping Engaged
After a diagnosis, many patients pull away from the social activities they used to enjoy. Here are a few tips for keeping your loved one engaged and active at home.
- Try cooking or baking with your loved one, using a simple recipe or a mix.
- Read a book they used to like, or the newspaper or magazine if that’s what they like.
- Sing songs or listen to music together.
- Do arts and crafts to stimulate creativity and a sense of accomplishment.
- Tend the garden, or visit a park or botanical garden.
Reasons to Increase The Level of Care
If your loved one shows signs of wanting to wear only the same outfit over and over, you might think of buying a few sets of the same outfit. If they get anxious about bathing, you could try doing it less often. Staying flexible in your expectations, and keeping your house clear of obvious dangers, can help your loved one stay at home longer.
There are many benefits from keeping your loved one in a familiar space, but eventually they may need more care. You can look into in-home care, which can provide many services that can help your loved one stay at home, while also getting the care they need. These services can be companion services, personal care services, homemaker services, or skilled nursing care.
Companion services provide companionship and someone for your loved one to talk to while you’re gone, who will also be able to keep your loved one safe. Personal care services can help with bathing, feeding, and dressing. Homemaker services can help by providing help around the house, shopping, and even meal prep. Skilled care provides wound care, medication services, and medical services that need to be administered by a nursing professional. The level of care your loved one need will vary, depending on their disease progression and cognitive ability.
Landmark Memory Care
Landmark Memory Care is a facility specially designed to help keep people with memory issues safe and looked after by trained staff. Landmark’s core belief is keeping your loved one at home as long as possible. To help make this possible in the community, Landmark offers day care services to help give caregivers a few hours of respite. Their adult daycare activities help to engage and entertain, while keeping daytime visitors safe and secure. There are arts and crafts, visits from our household pets Gizmo and Phoenix, chair exercises outdoors when the weather is nice, and many more activities besides.
The staff are specially trained in both elder care and memory care, which allows them to aid people in all stages of their illness. If your loved one has Alzheimer’s or age related dementia, you can check out Landmark’s website for more information on available services. Call today for a tour of the facility!