Creating an Alzheimer’s friendly home is similar to child-proofing a home; your best bet is to keep your solutions simple, re-evaluate the situation as needed and make sure that the changes you’ve made to the home really do work for you and can provide optimal Alzheimer’s care solutions. Just as some children will definitely find scissors or other sharp objects to play with, others will stay calm and play dolls all day; each individual with Alzheimer’s disease will have individual tics that can—and probably will—change over time. Keep an eye on what objects a person naturally goes toward and make sure to evaluate the safety of the home on an ongoing basis. If you are caring for someone who wanders or re-traces their steps, try to figure out which areas of the home a dementia patient feels most comfortable in and scrutinize it for any potential dangers. Remember that Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease and, as such, constant re-evaluation of the home will need to occur.
Getting started: Tips on Alzheimer’s care strategies
Not all Alzheimer’s care and safety tips will apply for each individual with Alzheimer’s disease: use your best judgment.
- Remove clutter. If you or your loved one have hoarding issues, then learn how to manage them in our Help for Hoarders section.
- Determine what can be used for locked storage space. Clean out closets and throw out unnecessary objects. As a person’s dementia and Alzheimer’s disease symptoms become more pronounced, you will have to put away more items to keep the home safe—make the space for these items before you need it.
- Limit options. Keep things simple. Do not place multiple options into cabinets or drawers; instead put few items in each.
- Don’t move furnishings around unless completely necessary. Keeping the layout of a home similar will help keep the interior looking familiar.
- Make commonly used items accessible. Put a few commonly used items on open shelves or on countertops or tables so that they are easily visible.
- Take a look. Mirrors in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease may encourage good grooming habits, but in later stages may be disconcerting as individuals might not recognize themselves. Covering or removing mirrors may be necessary for some.
- Double-check the dècor. Remove or re-upholster furniture that has busy patterns as they can be mistaken by individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease for insects or other objects. Patterned wallpaper should be replaced for the same reason.
- Make light soothing. Lighting throughout the home should be clear, even and warm.
- Create visual cues. Vision naturally deteriorates for most people as they age—and Alzheimer’s disease can exacerbate issues with differentiating items from each other. Brighter color contrasts often help to make it clearer what an object is. For example, brightly colored bowls may be a better signal that it is food inside the bowl itself.
- Keep important documents safe. Place important documents or bills in a safe place where they can easily be found should you need them for reference.
- Decide which areas are off-limits. If wandering is an issue, get locks on doors leading to the garage or garden if it has access to areas outside the property. Additionally, you can make the garage a locked storage space so that dangerous items can be stored there.
Find more caregiving resources on Caring.com:
- How to Recognize It’s Time for Assisted Living
- How to Choose the Right Senior Living Community
- How to Compare Senior Living Options