Caring For A Loved One With Alzheimer’s:
Preparing Your Home and Family
Alzheimer’s disease affects about 5.4 million Americans, about 5.2 million of which are 65 and older. It can be your grandparent, your cousin, your sibling or even your parent who faces the diagnosis. Eventually, those with Alzheimer’s require round-the-clock care, and for many families, that means taking the loved one into their own home. Preparing for this transition can make things easier for both the caregiver, the patient, and the rest of the family who might besharing the home.
Communication is Key
Once the decision has been made to bring a loved one with Alzheimer’s into your home, start by communicating with the entire family what to expect. This might mean financial contributions from those not living with you; a visitation schedule to minimize disruption for those living in the home while also providing a means for them along with the caregiver to take a break from the situation; or even counseling to help both the patient and those living in the home better cope with the transition. Establish expectations for everyone involved in the decision making process, along with those affected by it. Bring awareness to the fact that Alzheimer’s is degenerative, the needs of your loved one are likely to increase over time, and tremendous strength and patience will be required.
Tackling renovations may feel like something you need to expedite. However, effectively planning any changes that might be needed to the home, and discussing the schedule with others to avoid potential conflicts, can help this process go smoothly. Deciding when to tackle renovations, and understanding how long a space will be unavailable, will minimize the imposition this causes your spouse and children. Strategically schedule these changes while the family is taking a vacation or on a break from school. If bringing your loved one into the home means your children will have to sacrifice by sharing a room or moving into a different space, consider letting them be a part of the decision-making process in terms of finding a solution. This compromising approach will help ensure everyone is satisfied with the outcome.
Bringing someone with Alzheimer’s into your home can present risks for them and the other occupants. It’s important to properly secure potentially dangerous items like kitchen knives, cleaners, and anything that presents a fire hazard. Also, it’s best to cut down on clutter, which can cause confusion, and also loose items such as rugs, delicate accessories, or weak furnishings, which may cause an accident. Those living in the home will need to actively participate in these efforts, so make sure they understand why ordinary objects might be dangerous in the hands of your loved one. Having a specific location for everything can help everyone with this process. It’s also a good idea to install a security system if you don’t already have one. If cost is an issue, enable the “Find my phone” feature on their cell phone, and add a bluetooth tracker to keys, jackets, purses or other objects your loved one might be inclined to take with them if they decide to leave. These extra measures can help you track down your loved one if they get lost.
While it’s important not to make your loved one feel helpless before they actually are, considering future needs early on will help ensure your home is properly prepared as the disease progresses. Consider you own budget, along with the items you expect insurance or other benefits to cover. If funds are only expected to cover one round of renovations, focus on the worst-case scenario. If you can make gradual changes that coincide with the progression of the illness, that can help minimize the impact to everyone living in the home. Just be sure you don’t make any extreme changes after you’ve moved your loved one in, as that can exacerbate their condition.
While it’s extremely hard to watch a loved one suffer the effects of Alzheimer’s, providing care for them can be comforting. Communicating any decisions and expectations with your loved one and other family members, as well as allowing them to be part of the decision-making process, can help everyone transition smoothly to the changes. And remember, having your loved one closer to family is the ultimate goal, and it ensures they are safe and comfortable throughout this difficult life chapter.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com
Article by Lydia Chan