Creating a Dementia Friendly Home: Setting a Firm Foundation
by Michelle Seitzer
Home Care Houston – Receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or a related dementia for your loved one can be devastating. The second biggest challenge? Adapting your home to best care for the needs of your loved one overwhelms many caregivers after leaving the doctor’s office.
Here’s the good news: there is a wealth of information and resources out there that are easily accessible. That being said, what you need to remember above all is that flexibility is the key to success. No matter how many books you read or checklists you follow, your loved one’s care needs will change, or his needs might be so unique that you must create alternative solutions other than those suggested. Buying an expensive,
high tech gadget to assist your loved one with daily tasks may not always be the best option – in fact, the gadget itself could present more hazard than help. Alzheimer’s does not fit in a box, so any resources you consult may have to be adapted to fit your care recipient’s unique situation.
Caregivers must begin to look at the home in a brand new light. What hazards exist that could be easily removed? What environmental features should be brought in to foster independence while maintaining safety? And, perhaps the most complicated question is, simply, where does one begin?
An understanding of the changes that can affect the person with dementia is helpful to provide a firm foundation. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are five key changes that will occur throughout the disease process:
- Judgment: forgetting how to use household appliances, etc.
- Sense of time and place: getting lost on one’s own street; being unable to recognize or find areas in the home
- Behavior: the care recipient will become easily confused, suspicious or fearful
- Physical ability: the person with dementia may have trouble with balance; depending upon a walker or wheelchair to get around
- Senses: changes in vision, hearing, sensitivity to temperatures or depth perception
Clearly, these changes underscore the importance of flexibility. Some persons with dementia may experience all of these changes at once, others may never have a change in behavior, but may have a drastic drop in physical ability. Some may only experience moderate changes in these areas but these changes may occur over a longer period of time. There is no timeline for these transformations, making the challenge of adapting the home all the more difficult.
At Your Side Home Care has helped many families with home care in Houston and the surrounding areas. We provide companionship, homemaking and personal in home care services for many seniors, veterans, new moms and the disabled in our community. Call us today, 832-271-1600.
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