Community Views: Home Modifications Caregivers Should Know About
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, the needs of your loved one begin to change. Suddenly the house they could once navigate alone becomes a place filled with hazards. As their mind changes, you may not know what they need to stay safe. It can feel scary and overwhelming to figure out what now poses a risk.
Fortunately, you are in a community filled with people who have gone through this. We turned to followers of our AlzheimersDisease.net Facebook page and asked them to share with us: “What home safety modifications should new caregivers know?”
We heard from dozens of community members who had some wonderful tips. Here is what they shared.
Think back to childproofing
If you have raised small children, you know they can get into things not meant for them in less time than it takes to retrieve the snack they were demanding. Toddlers do not have the capacity to understand when something is dangerous.
Parenting toddlers is often about allowing them to discover their world within safe limits. The same principle applies to protecting your loved one with Alzheimer’s.
“Take knobs off the stove and hide knives, anything glass, or anything else that could hurt them. Baby-proof your home. I put wind chimes throughout the house so it would wake me up. I put locks on my cabinets. A simple thumb latch up high where they can’t reach it should keep them from getting outside. My mother was a fall risk, so we made seatbelts for her chair so she couldn’t get up without one of us to help her.”
“Think toddlers. Hide cleaning chemicals, knives, matches, etc.”
“Put a childproof gate at the top of stairs. Add an alarm to it so if they were to touch the gate the alarm will sound.”
“A video monitor for the bedroom and living area. I have a set, 1 in her room and 1 in the living room. I can check on her without disturbing her in the night. It has audio if you need to listen for them.”
“I bought motion-sensor lights for a dark hallway. When my dad got up at night to use the bathroom, he had light.”
“Lock the oven and stovetop, if possible.”
“Dinner plates should be a solid color. Dad had trouble distinguishing between the dish pattern and the food.”
Lots of alarms
It can feel awkward to arm your home as though you are attempting to prevent a jailbreak. However, keep in mind that you are trying to avoid a preventable accident. Those with Alzheimer’s can wander, try to leave the house, become confused, and fall. By adding monitors and alarms, you may reduce the chance of some of these dangers. Alarms can also give you peace of mind so you can rest.
“I have door alarms, so if the door is open it rings like a doorbell.”
“A bed monitor for when she gets out of bed. It notifies me but does not alarm in her room.”
“Use a portable motion detector to let you know they are on the move.”
“Alarms on outside doors.”
Change it up
A few other modifications can make a world of difference in helping keep your loved one safe in your home. Many safety measures can be boiled down to: Lock it up, throw it out, or hide it.
“Don’t leave things around for them to use to get to higher places. My mom climbed a stepstool ladder to get at a banana on top of the fridge and fell, resulting in a broken pelvis.”
“Clutter confuses them.”
“No throw rugs! And keep all walkways clear!”
“Install locks at the top of outside doors. They will try to go home, go to the field, or anything their mind is telling them.”
“For people with Alzheimer’s, all tubes (toothpaste, creams, etc.) look alike! Put them away!”
We deeply appreciate everyone who shared their tips with us. Sharing your knowledge is a gift for those just starting out on the journey of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Have you checked out the stories submitted by other community members?