Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disorder affecting millions of people annually. Since the disease is irreversible, it can eventually cause someone to lose their memory. Even worse, they forget how to perform basic tasks like cooking or even washing hands.
Therefore, if you're living with someone with Alzheimer's, you need to make specific home modifications to improve their safety and comfort. Although you're advised against making sudden significant changes to the home, there are specific adjustments you can introduce gradually to support their independence.
For someone living with Alzheimer's, routine and familiarity are crucial. So, it's essential to choose home modifications that can help the individual grow accustomed to their environment and ease into it over time.
1. Better Lighting
If your loved one is living with Alzheimer's, they will benefit from better lighting. It helps not only reduce the risk of confusion but also injuries around the house. Make sure you offer bright, natural, and even lighting solutions. That reduces reflections, shadows, and glares which could lead to confusion.
On top of that, ensure light switches are easy to use, and there's ample lighting in the toilet and on the stairs. It would be even better if you could install automatic light sensors. That guarantees that the lights will always come on when someone passes by the light sensors. Finally, ensure you install blinds in the bedroom to create the ideal ambiance for sleeping.
2. Widen Doorways
Widening doorways in a home with an Alzheimer's patient is one of the more complex home modifications. The project's complexity will vary depending on a wide range of factors, including the size of your home and location.
While such a home modification can range into the low thousands, it's essential, mainly if the patient uses a wheelchair or walker. With a wider doorway, it will be easier for people with Alzheimer's to move around the home, reducing the barriers associated with limited mobility.
3. Contrasting Colors
Using contrasting colors in homes of people with Alzheimer's is one of the simplest home modifications that can virtually improve their independence. Contrasting colors help Alzheimer's patients distinguish household items from their backgrounds. For instance, placing a white plate on a blue placemat or boldly painting handrails and grab bars could ease visual confusion.
All in all, as you create contrast around household items, avoid using any busy patterns. That's because busy patterns tend to overstimulate the brain and could lead to hallucinations and delusions. When household items have busy patterns, your senior loved ones might envision bugs moving across things like rugs.
4. Safer Flooring Options
If you have a loved one living with Alzheimer's, as you help modify things around their home to increase their independence, you need to implement safer flooring options. Avoid mats and rugs on the floor as they can be confusing for people with Alzheimer's. They are likely to think the carpet is something they need to jump over, potentially leading to falls and injuries.
Also, avoid reflective flooring as someone with Alzheimer's can interpret that as a wet floor, and they will struggle walking over it. The safest flooring options are in matte and contrasting colors from the walls. While at it, avoid colors that may be mistaken for real things like blue (water).
5. Memory Aids: Labels and Signs
Memory aids are simple but pretty helpful home modifications in a home that lives someone with Alzheimer's. You can put up labels and signs on doors and cupboards to ease how they get around the house and jog their memory.
As you put up these signs, make sure they are clear, have appropriate pictures to illustrate, and are placed strategically, so they are easily visible. Alternatively, you can consider installing see-through cupboards to help someone with Alzheimer's easily see what's inside. That will increase convenience and reduce the frustration of looking for things unsuccessfully.
6. Install Safety Grab Bars and Hand Rails
People living with Alzheimer's tend to lose their balance quickly. So, as you do home modifications in their homes, you should consider adding grab bars in the bathroom and handrails. They provide additional support and safety, especially when getting in and out of bathrooms with wet, slippery floors.
Home modifications can significantly improve the lives of people living with Alzheimer's. Safety is the most crucial thing, so make sure the home modifications prioritize making the home conducive to their unique and ever-changing needs.
Also, remember that the home modifications will depend on Alzheimer's patient's severity. These changes will not only be great for the safety and comfort of the patient but also for the peace of mind of the caregiver.