Your Home, Your Aging Loved One’s Haven

 Preparing your home for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t have to mean changing your entire lifestyle. There are a few things you can do to keep everyone safe as your family adjusts to your new housemate. Here are a few tips to get you started.

 Start with a decluttering session. If you’re like most people, there is a good chance that clutter has piled up in your home without you noticing. And while a few too many pieces of furniture might not be an issue for you, your aging houseguest may not be able to successfully navigate disorderly rooms.

 Deep clean your spaces. Once you’ve done a round of decluttering, you’ll be able to deep clean areas that may be holding on to bacteria, dust, and allergens that could impact your loved one’s (and your own) health. In addition to cleaning your floors and counters, be sure to clean your furniture, because your couch, chairs, and other pieces are among the dirtiest places in your home. 

 Consider how they will enter and exit the home. Mobility concerns are not limited to those in a wheelchair. For some older people, it can be difficult to gauge the height of steps. This makes entering and exiting the home especially dangerous. Consider installing a wheelchair ramp, which will eliminate the potential for tripping and falling on stairs.

 Limit the need for stairs. If possible, reduce the need to travel up and down the stairs by putting your loved one’s bedroom and bathroom on the first floor.

 Light it up. With age, a person’s eyes don’t adjust to changing lighting situations quite as well as in their youth. Coupled with delayed reaction and inhibited cognition, a dark hallway or dimly-lit bathroom presents a falling, tripping, or impact-accident hazard to an elderly person. Something as simple as LED strip lighting in the hallway will help.

 Add a personal touch throughout the home. Moving into someone else’s home can take its toll physically as well as emotionally. You can ease some of the emotional pain by providing a familiar atmosphere for your loved one. Whether it’s an heirloom blanket, a favorite chair, or beloved piece of art, incorporate some of their personal belongings throughout your house to provide a sense of comfort and familiarity.

 Make their room comfortable. Prepare their room by adding comfortable linens, blinds or curtains, new lighting and any of their favorite decor. Consider also mounting a TV on the wall, and adding a smart speaker they can use to listen to music, use as a sound machine or to help them stay connected or find out about the weather.

 Keep healthcare and provider contact information visible. In case of an emergency, you’ll need to easily access health care provider information along with documents for health insurance and a list of medical conditions. Now is also a good time to put together any necessary paperwork you will need to make decisions on behalf of your loved one. This typically includes at least a power of attorney and a living will.

 When you’ve made the choice to open your home and heart, you offer your loved one the opportunity to live in a loving environment. Follow these tips and your home will become a safe sanctuary for your loved one while giving you peace of mind as a caregiver.