7 Steps to Creating an Alzheimer’s Safe Home for a Northern Michigan Senior
When a senior loved one lives with Alzheimer’s disease, northern Michigan caregivers and their peers across the country are faced with a unique set of challenges. Safety is one of the biggest. As the disease progresses to the point where the senior is no longer safe in their own home, an adult child often tries to move them in with their own family. If you are preparing for a transition like this one, an important first step is to create a secure environment.
7 Steps to Setting Up an Alzheimer’s Safe Environment
Here are 7 steps you can take to help prepare your home before your loved one with Alzheimer’s moves in:
- Assess the risks. Alzheimer’s can create challenges with everything from mobility to vision and judgment. Walk through your home and carefully assess it for things such as poor lighting, fall hazards, chemicals used in household cleaning products, and potentially dangerous tools. It might be worth utilizing the services of a physical or occupational therapist to help with this.
- Establish a household routine. This may be especially difficult for busy families, but structure is important for those living with Alzheimer’s. It can help manage agitation and sleeplessness. If you know your loved one’s worst time of day is also the time of day your family’s schedule is at its peak, you might consider using in-home care or companion care. The caregiver can stay with your loved one at home instead of you trying to take them with you as you shuttle your children around town.
- Get advice on dietary choices. Depending on what stage the disease is at, you may need to seek the advice of your loved one’s physician or a nutritionist to manage their diet. They can recommend safe food choices that will work around impairments, such as difficulty swallowing, while still meeting your senior loved one’s nutritional needs.
- Invest in a quality home security system. Wandering is one of the most common behaviors for people with Alzheimer’s. It can be very difficult to manage. A home security system that chimes when an exterior window or door is opened can help alert you that they have left the house.
- Personal GPS. There are independent technology companies that specialize in personal GPS devices. You might also find your home security company has one as an option. These systems work in a variety of ways. They all have some form of GPS tracking that allows you to quickly locate a loved one who has wandered away from home. Some even allow you to establish a “safe zone” around your house and yard. If that zone is breached, the caregiver is notified.
- In-home safety technology. Northern Michigan caregivers have a variety of technologies that can help support a loved one’s memory loss. Many coffeemakers, irons and other small electronic appliances have automatic shut-offs. Cooking safety alarms are available to turn off the stovetop if a pot is left unattended too long.
- Share the upcoming change with neighbors. If you haven’t already done so, let your neighbors know that a loved one with Alzheimer’s is moving in. Having extra eyes that are aware of the situation can help keep your loved one safe.
Has a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease moved in with your family? What advice can you share with fellow caregivers in northern Michigan?