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Prepping for Alzheimer’s: Tips for Caregivers to Ready Their Homes
Guest Blogger: Lydia Chan
Absolutely nothing can prepare you for a loved one’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. It can turn your world completely upside down, leaving you with more questions than answers, especially if you will be taking on the role of caregiver. In the beginning stages your loved one may be able to continue living and thriving independently in their home, but as the disease progresses, it will be necessary for around-the-clock care due to increased confusion, falls, and wandering. If you are planning to relocate your loved one to your home, there are a few things you to need do to ensure your home is safe.
Know When to Step In
It’s the question that is constantly on your mind – “Is it safe for my loved one to continue living at home?” When it comes to living alone and Alzheimer’s, the short answer is that it depends on the situation, such as the stage your loved one is currently in as well as the safety measures in place in their home. According to BrightFocus, “Because abilities decrease over time, so does the ability to live alone. This is where knowledge of risks can help us understand when they’ve become too great.” Those with Alzheimer’s are at risk for falls, wandering, medication mismanagement, isolation, and lack of self-care. It is important that you are constantly looking for changes, as abilities can change from day to day. One day your loved one was able to get to the grocery store and back and the next they can’t remember how to get back home. The decision to bring a loved one into your home comes with much thought and consideration, but you’ll know when the time is right.
Strive for Independence
Whether your loved one is in the early or late stages of Alzheimer’s, it can be difficult for them to accept help in areas they were once able to handle on their own. The bottom line is that your loved one needs your assistance, but there are ways to help them from afar while still allowing them to complete certain tasks on their own. For example, a wandering detector can alert you to their movement, while also enabling them to move freely about your home, increasing both their safety and your peace of mind. Perhaps a phone with pictures will help them remember important phone numbers so that they can continue daily talks with friends and family members. Even something as simple as a medication reminder is an easy way to give your loved one a little bit of the control.
Plan for Expense
It simply isn’t logical to think that you will be able to bring your loved one into your home without incurring additional expenses. For starters, you will likely need to modify for your home for safety such as installing grab bars, locks, monitoring systems, railings, ramps, etc. Perhaps you need to build a bedroom onto the first floor or install non-slip flooring. Whatever the modification may be, there are grants that may be able to help alleviate some of the costs associated with improving your home’s safety and accessibility. You should also take into consideration the cost of ancillary care required to take care of your loved one such as in-home care, nurses’ aides, transportation, etc. Furthermore, many caregivers are finding that they have to dip into their own personal savings and cut back on/quit work to provide the necessary care. Caring for your loved one will require a support network of professionals, doctors, family members, and friends along with helpful financial resources.
Bringing a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease into your home is a big change, so it is imperative that you take the necessary steps to ensure you are prepared. Start by determining the right time to step in based on the stage of the disease. Once a move is necessary, prepare your home with modifications and take advantage of financial assistance to provide a safe and loving home.