Skip to main content

A Caregiver's Guide to Home Modifications for Alzheimer's Patients


Image by Pixabay

A Caregiver's Guide to Home Modifications for Alzheimer's Patients

As a caregiver, you want to do everything possible to help a client or loved one with Alzheimer's. This includes modifying the patient's home with her medical needs in mind. In this post, we'll discuss the principles that should guide you when planning these alterations. Use this information when discussing the project with your remodeling contractor. Never attempt these modifications yourself unless you're sure of your skills and knowledge.

Three Ways Alzheimer's Disease Affects the Brain

Alzheimer's interferes with the mental processes involved with carrying out everyday tasks, according to the National Institute on Aging. Over time, these changes can produce the following symptoms in the sufferer:

  1. Forgetting how to perform basic tasks such as balancing a checkbook, driving a car, and taking care of personal hygiene needs.
  2. Feeling confused in formerly familiar environments, including the family home. Sufferers may forget which door leads to a particular room or where they keep common items such as a wallet or car keys.
  3. Becoming easily agitated, even towards people who have done nothing wrong. This is a symptom of a much deeper problem affecting the patient's sense of judgment and emotional balance.

Relieving these symptoms requires modifying the home in line with the following principles:

     Simplicity. The caregiver should minimize the steps the patient needs to complete an action. For example, in the past, the sufferer may have had to go upstairs and turn two corners to reach her bedroom. Going forward, it may be best to relocate the patient's sleeping quarters to the primary floor and to use a room directly across from the main living area.
     Usability. Visual cues such as signs and directional arrows can help compensate for failing memory. One suggestion is to use signs that feature graphics rather than text. If written messages are employed, then choose short words and plain language.
     Safety. Removing knobs from the stove, locking cabinets that contain household cleaners, and monitoring access to exits are all prudent measures.

Now let's look at modifications for specific rooms.

Bathrooms

Remodeling a bathroom can be a reasonable investment when compared to the benefits the changes may provide for the patient. Save yourself time and stress by hiring a professional to complete the job. Check online to find professionals in your area. Here are some of the steps typically taken for Alzheimer's sufferers:

     Installing slip-resistant floor tiling and grab bars.
     Changing the existing bathtub or shower stall to a walk-in design.
     Modifying the toilet to accommodate a wheelchair-bound person.

The Kitchen

We've already mentioned removing knobs from the stove. Other possible modifications include:

     Lowering the height of the sink and surrounding area for ease of access from a wheelchair.
     Replacing existing cabinet knobs with more ergonomic options.
     Installing a lock on the refrigerator to prevent unhealthy binge eating.

Bedrooms

Possible modifications include:

     Lowering mattress height for ease of access from a wheelchair.
     Adding an adjacent restroom.
     Installing added lighting fixtures to compensate for reduced visual acuity.

Steps to Take as the Condition Progresses:

Other changes that may become advisable over time include:

     Covering steam radiators to prevent accidental burns.
     Installing video cameras at key points throughout the home.
     Adding handrails to hallways.
     Removing area rugs and other potential trip hazards.
     Installing a hospital-style bed when the patient is no longer ambulatory.


Alzheimer's is a complicated disease. The measures needed to accommodate its symptoms are equally complex. The information in this post is a good starting point for addressing these issues. We recommend consulting with the patient's healthcare provider or caseworker before completing any of the modifications mentioned herein. We wish you and your client or loved one all the best as you face the future together.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Caregiver Burnout is Real

  Do you ever just get too tired? Do you ever want to quit? Do you ever sit down for a whole 30 seconds and think about not getting back up? Ever? Who am I kidding? Sometimes I forget who I'm talking to. Lol. As caregivers, burnout is real. But the problem for most of us, is we don't get a break even in the midst of burnout, right? Let's face it. If we had a bit more help we might  avoid burnout - but once we feel that we are in a season of burnout and stressed out - there's still no help. It's easy to feel stuck. I try to do a few things to avoid burnout and to cope. Someone told me one time that I had learned how to live even in the midst of the situation. I think she was right. I have learned to slow down and enjoy an afternoon cup of tea (or coffee!!!). I try to get outside as much as possible because sunshine and fresh air are essential to a healthy life. Some days that means sitting on the patio so I can see Chris in the recliner through the window. But I'

Part of the Crowd

 I took Chris to our local minor league baseball team's game yesterday. I must say I give the ballpark an A+ on accessibility. The parking guys pointed me to a handicap spot right near the gate. And from there, I just rolled him in and found our accessible seating - which just means a chair beside an empty spot for the wheelchair to fit in! It was great. He could see fine and even though it was a bit loud at times - it wasn't too loud for him. What joy fills my heart when I find things to do that are positive. As we sat and watched the game, we became part of the crowd. We were all watching the game and cheering on the home team. We had one purpose - besides being entertained, and that was to support the local team. We all cheered when our guys made a play. We hooped and hollered when one of them stole a base or hit a home run. It was so amazing to be part of something bigger than us - to be part of the community.   It made me think about the crowds who followed Jesus and the w

One Little Catch

  There always seems to be a catch doesn't there? I think as caregivers we find ourselves in spots with catches a lot! The things that should be simple to navigate or often complex due to caregiving responsibilities. simple things like going to grab a prescription that's ready or swing by the grocery store are much more difficult when you have to take into account the care of a loved one.  People may say, It's easy - just go - but by the time they get to the "go" part our minds are burdened with all it takes to just go. For me, it means clothing and transferring another whole human being! lol - There's no just  jumping in the car and heading out, right? It's opening and lowering the ramp - getting the chair in the van and situation properly. Then, getting all the buckles in place and secure before we can "just go." Sometimes God's answers seem to be complex too. In Psalm 50 verse 15, God says He will rescue us - all we have to do (just....) i