Alzheimer’s: A Debilitating Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that generally affects people over the age of 60. There are various stages of Alzheimer’s, and each one has worse symptoms than the one before it. Eventually, a person living with Alzheimer’s has to receive round-the-clock care to ensure their health and safety. While some people are able to live in their own homes during the early stages, they still require safety modifications that protect them from household hazards.
Brought to you by Alzheimer’s Alliance of Perry County, here are some home modifications that should be made to ensure an Alzheimer patient's safety:
Room for Comfort
The first thing an Alzheimer’s patient needs is their own room, where they can go to relax in peace and quiet. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s can make life overwhelming, and a quiet room is the best place a patient can go to remove themselves from excess stimuli. Ideally, the Alzheimer’s patient room is on the first floor with an adjacent bathroom. It should be outfitted with a comfortable bed but no low-profile furniture that the patient can trip over. It is a good idea to invest in a medical grade mattress protector in case of incontinence -- a common symptom of Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, make their life simpler by clearing out their closet and wardrobe of unnecessary clothes and only keep a few comfortable, easy-to-wear options to help eliminate a stressful paradox-of-choice situation for the patient.
The bathroom is considered the most dangerous room in the house, especially for seniors. A slip and fall may mean only a bruise for you, but for a person over the age of 60, it can have deadly consequences. Falls are the leading cause of injury and injury-related death for seniors in the United States. You can help prevent falls in the bathroom by installing grab bars along the walls. If you want to further reduce the risk of falls, consider installing non-slip flooring.
To make bathing easier, it helps to install a bench in the tub or shower. Bathing while sitting isn’t just safer, it makes it easier for a caretaker to help the Alzheimer’s patient bathe while maintaining their dignity. A retractable shower nozzle also helps with this process. Make sure you get one that is long enough by measuring the distance between the top of the nozzle and the base of the tub. Another symptom of Alzheimer’s is the loss of a person’s ability to remember sequential step activities such as brushing their teeth. It may be helpful to print out and laminate instructions for their morning and evening hygiene routines.
Remove Toxic Chemicals
Sadly, one of the biggest threats to an Alzheimer’s patient’s health is themselves. Among the symptoms of the disease is the likelihood of the patient to eat or consume inappropriate things. Because of this, it is important to remove toxic chemicals, including most cleaning products, from their access. You can put things such as bleach and detergent in a locked cabinet or closet, but it may also be worth it to consider switching to non-toxic cleaning products for their household. It’s still a good idea to keep them out of reach, but knowing that the patient can’t ingest anything poisonous is nice for your peace of mind.
Get a Fence
Individuals with Alzheimer's can experience wandering from their caregiver, which can be dangerous. To help reduce or avoid this risk, consider adding a fence around the home. Expect to budget for around $4,500, though the costs of fence installation can vary depending on which material you choose. By typing "fence company near me" into a search engine, you can quickly access a list of top professionals. Reach out to at least three of them for estimates to avoid stretching your wallet.
How to Fund Large Renovations
If you are lucky, preparing the Alzheimer’s patient’s home only involves replacing Windex with vinegar and installing a shower bench. However, for some people with Alzheimer’s, large renovations are needed if they want to continue living in their home. If you find yourself in this situation, there are resources available for funding a large project. Grants for Alzheimer’s caregivers can help cover renovation costs as well as medical and everyday needs. You can also apply for a loan especially tailored to caregivers. Finally, if the Alzheimer’s patient has life insurance, you may want to consider filing for a settlement. Selling a life insurance policy is just one option that can provide funds needed for medical expenses or assistance with daily living.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that eventually renders a person unable to care for themselves. If the Alzheimer’s patient wants to live at home during the early stages, certain modifications are always needed. From preventing falls to removing toxic products, there are several ways to ensure an Alzheimer’s patient’s safety.