Watching a loved one with Alzheimer’s lose their freedom is one of the most heartbreaking experiences as a caretaker. Although they may struggle with memory, cognition and mobility, it’s vital for their mental and physical health to stay as active and independent as possible. In the early stages of the disease, simple home modifications can provide additional security for seniors and peace of mind for their caretakers. As you prepare to update your home for your relative with Alzheimer’s, here is what you should tackle first.
Store knives and sharp utensils in a cupboard with a safety lock; you should also keep toxic cleaning solutions and alcohol locked up. You can install stove lock knobs to ensure your loved one doesn’t unintentionally start a fire or create a gas leak; anti-scald measures on your home’s water heater will prevent accidental burns from the sink. You should also lay anti-slip rugs in front of the fridge, sink and microwave.
Add colored tape or a different color wood on the stairs to create visual contrast; this can help your loved one avoid missteps and falls. Handrails should also be secured for optimal grip. You may also consider installing a home elevator. Residential elevators help minimize the risk of injury that stairs provide and this is how to make your home more accessible says Canadian home elevator company. An elevator can also create a more accessible environment for caregivers, especially if your loved one ever needs to use a walker or wheelchair.
Although they will gradually require greater assistance and supervision, you can make your bathroom more accessible for a senior with dementia. A walk-in, safety tub with automatic draining can prevent falls and accidental drowning; adding a foam rubber cover to the tub’s faucet will provide additional protection in the event your loved one does fall. Make sure that your water heater is set to never exceed 120 degrees. This ensures your loved one won’t suffer burns even if they do use the faucets and shower. You can also install touchless faucets that allow your loved one to wash without needing to struggle with twistable handles. You should also apply childproof locks to any medicine cabinets or doors that contain potentially harmful items or substances, like razors.
It’s best to apply a new key lock to your garage entrance that prevents your loved one from entering it unattended; if they able to go inside, you should ensure the car is fully locked at all times and the keys are hidden. Cover cars and bikes when they aren’t in use, and make sure the garage’s main door cannot be readily opened from the inside without a remote or code. Ensure that all tools, hunting equipment and weapons are fully removed or safely secured. There should be double reinforced locks on any weapon cabinets or boxes containing sharp objects.
Install a fence around pools and hot tubs, and add railings to porch steps that lack support. Like the interior, outdoor step edges should also be marked with bright color, like red tape. Make sure that your loved one is not able to wander outside unattended or use any equipment like grills without supervision. Ensure that any gates are locked as well and unable to be opened without a key; it’s not uncommon for individuals with developing dementia to have episodes of wandering that causes them to frequently become disoriented and forget who and where they are. This can happen even if they’re in their own home or happen to walk outside on the street.