According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, 99,000 people aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease in Minnesota. November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month; a time to increase awareness of the disease, how to navigate it, and how to live with it.
That’s where we come in. As a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist and Certified Living-in-Place Professional, I have worked with spouses and adult children to adapt their living spaces to meet the needs of their loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease.
There are many things to consider when preparing a safe and calming living environment for someone with Alzheimer’s related dementia. From minimal adjustments to maximum adaptation through remodeling, caregivers have a lot of options, based on their situation.
Here are some basic changes to consider in your home:
- Install locking controls on your stove to prevent injury and fire.
- Give your loved one a drawer just for their important stuff, and label it, so they know where to find it.
- Keep counters free of clutter. Clutter creates confusion and makes it more difficult for people with Alzheimer’s to find things.
- Remove mirrors, especially at the bottom and top of stairs and over the sofa. As the disease progresses, people with Alzheimer’s remember themselves as a younger person, so they think the person in the mirror is an intruder. As a result, they could hit the mirror and cause injury. It’s okay to keep your necessary bathroom mirrors.
- Change out pieces of art with photos of people and places. Photos spark memories, which is helpful and comforting.
- Place something in front of the stars to prevent stair use and protect your loved one from falling and wandering.
- Place alerts/alarms on exterior doors to alert you to them leaving
- Keep them engaged with music because it’s the part of the brain that retains the most memory
- Consider creating a sensory room to help your loved one hold their memories and maintain a deeper connection with them.
- Keep a routine, inside and outside. Repetitive living supports people with Alzheimer’s.
Changes specific to the bathroom:
- Keep counters free of clutter
- Give your loved one their own drawer
- Make sure there is good lighting, and sensored lighting that comes on gradually, something that is helpful in the middle of the night.
From an in-home consultation to remodeling your living spaces for safety and support, Access Design + Build is here to help. Contact us to find out what is possible.