Designing a Home for Seniors with Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia that affects memory, behavior, and cognitive ability. The deeper the onset, the more it impacts your ability to do things for yourself.

If you are a caregiver to a person with Alzheimer’s, simplifying daily tasks will also ease the burden on you. Designing a functional space means they will be able to do more for themselves, and feel less anxious about it.

7 Ways to Adapt a Home for Someone Living with Alzheimer’s

There are many ways to modify the home that can help a loved one manage the challenges of Alzheimer’s better. Following is a how-to guide on adapting the home for a person living with Alzheimer’s:

Write things down.

Instructions and reminders are very helpful to someone struggling with memory loss. Reminders for things like turning off the stove or oven, to directional notes identifying where the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and living room are will help orient your loved one if they are feeling lost or confused. Write down the daily routine on a whiteboard as an every day reminder, and post a list of phone numbers for loved ones, neighbors, and friends in case of emergency. Notes on the fridge with reminders to eat and drink at certain times of the day, and reminder post-its in the bathroom to brush teeth and wash are also a good idea.

Label the contents of drawers and cabinets.

List what’s inside of every drawer and cupboard in the house, including utensils, dishes, pots, pans, clothing, jackets, linens, and personal items. Make a list of food items to post on the food pantry and refrigerator, noting their favorite things to eat. Keep household cleaners and toxic items in a locked cabinet so nothing is accidentally ingested. A digital clock that displays analog time, date, and weather, when placed in a person’s field of vision, can help someone make sense of the day.

Eliminate patterns.

Colorful shapes and designs can be confusing to someone with Alzheimer’s. Replace furniture that has busy patterns like plaid, floral, or geometric shapes with something solid. Choose furniture with firm, but comfortable cushions that aren’t too low to the ground to make standing and sitting safer and easier. Place sofa (or preferred furniture) so that it’s facing the television with its back to the windows to avoid glare. Mirrors can also frighten someone with dementia, causing confusion when they see their reflection. If this happens, it might be time remove them and replace mirrors with framed art or family photos.

Good lighting is key.

Distinguishing between day and night is important. Keep curtains and blinds open during the day to let in natural light, and close them when it’s dark to indicate it’s nighttime. This helps the circadian rhythm for a better night’s sleep. To minimize the risk of tripping and falling install high wattage soft light bulbs in all lamps and overhead lighting throughout the home to ensure every room is well lit.

Show them the way at bedtime.

As the day goes on, a person with dementia can feel increasingly agitated or confused, making the bedtime routine more challenging. Painting a bedroom door a different color can help minimize confusion on which door is their bedroom. Light the way in every room with nightlights and motion lamps that illuminate when someone is active in the middle of the night.

A thoughtfully placed bed is very important.

Color and contrast are beneficial to people with Alzheimer’s, helping them see things more clearly. Contrasting bed linens will help a person distinguish the bed from the rug, and will also be a guide to where to get in between the sheets and lay their head. Be sure the bed is placed so that someone can get in and out of the bed from either side, and always clear the floor of anything that could become a tripping hazard. If possible, place the bed in such a way that the toilet is visible to minimize confusion in the middle of the night.

Display lots of family photos and memorabilia.

Framed photos of family and loved ones can trigger happy memories and improve mood. It also helps someone with Alzheimer’s feel safe and loved.

Is Assisted Living or Memory Care needed? Get Started

If your loved one needs more support than you are able to provide at home it may be time to consider senior living options including Assisted Living or Memory Care. Specialized care settings can support seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnoses as well as those experiencing progressive memory loss. If you’re looking to start a senior living search Medical Alert is here to help—we have teamed up with A Place for Mom who is the leading senior living advisory service in the United States. A Place for Mom’s expert advisors help caregivers and their families find the right senior living options for their aging loved ones through personalized referrals, tour scheduling and move-in support. Their services come at no cost to families as A Place for Mom is paid for by its network of 17,000+ participating communities and home care providers.

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