January 20, 2018—Guest Post from Lydia Chan
Aging With Grace is pleased to share an article this week by Lydia Chan. After her Mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Lydia Chan struggled to balance the responsibilities of caregiving and her own life. She founded AlzheimersCaregiver.net as an online resource for fellow caregivers and seniors. In her spare time, Lydia writes articles about a range of caregiving topics. Lydia’s article below lists ways to make the home of a person with dementia safer. I must add to suggestion number 7, that someone who works full time would benefit from finding a day center, such as our health club for seniors, so the dementia sufferer could have a day focused on health improvement, good food, fun, and friends. A day center is usually less expensive than at home care, and one does not have to install a surveillance system to be assured of the care their loved one is receiving. And even if the caregivers don’t work, it is good for the caregiver and the person with dementia to have a break from one another. Also, statistics show that people with dementia benefit cognitively from being in a social setting regularly.
I also want to add that I applaud Lydia for helping to keep people in a home setting and out of institutions. And I agree with Lydia. It really is about doing the right thing and having happy memories for the rest of our lives.
Prepare your home for your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease by Lydia Chan
If someone you love has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, you may be wondering what will happen next. You will likely have to make a lot of difficult decisions about the care of your loved one while still trying to honor her own decisions about her life. Many people decide to take their loved one into their own home and become a caregiver. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be a rewarding task, but it can also be exhausting and stressful.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, debilitating brain disease for which there is no cure, though some medications can ease and possibly slow symptom progression. According to Redfin, “Alzheimer’s disease affects about 5.4 million Americans, about 5.2 million of which are 65 and older. It can be your grandparent, your cousin, your sibling or even your parent who faces the diagnosis. Eventually, those with Alzheimer’s require round-the-clock care, and for many families, that means taking the loved one into their own home.”
Before you move your loved one in, you should take some time to make your home safe for her. There are a few things that you can do to lessen the likelihood of injury for your loved one or someone else in the home.
- Get rid of all weapons. Anything that could be used as a weapon is a bad thing to have in your home if someone with dementia lives there. This includes kitchen knives and dangerous tools. People with Alzheimer’s disease sometimes forget people’s faces, and they might think an intruder has come into the house.
- Remove rugs and any other fall hazards. Any type of clutter that gets in the way of walking through the house is dangerous. Make your home bright and well-lit, too. Put nightlights in the hallways to make sure she can see if she gets up.
- Clear the kitchen. Any dangerous appliances should be removed, and take the knobs off your stove. Make sure you have at least one fire extinguisher that works and is readily available.
- Get your bathroom ready. Install a shower chair and get soft covers for the faucets. Make sure there are grab bars near the shower and toilet, and consider installing a taller toilet. Make sure your water heater isn’t on too high to prevent scalding.
- Remove interior door locks. Interior door locks can lead to her locking herself in a room where you can’t get to her to help.
- Install extra exterior door security. People with Alzheimer’s tend to wander, which means they can leave the home at any hour and put themselves in great danger. Install door locks up high where she can’t reach them, and consider installing an alarm system to wake you if she opens the door.
- Consider her abilities. Is she able to walk around? Can she use the stairs? Does she need a walker or cane? How far has the disease progressed? These are all things you must think about when prepping your home and your life. If you have a full-time job, you might have to hire someone to visit during the day or stay there all day.
- Care for yourself. Being a caregiver can take a toll on you, so make sure you get some help with your tasks and spend some time taking care of yourself.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be extremely difficult, but it also has its rewards. When your loved one has a moment of clarity, you’ll appreciate the closeness you’ll feel with her. You’ll be reminded of how important she is to you and your family. You’ll cherish those memories for the rest of your life.