Home safety is important for each and everyone, especially for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or any form of dementia. If you have to take care of a patient with Alzheimer’s disease, chances are you are looking for ways to make it conducive for someone with memory loss.
It is of paramount importance that people with Alzheimer’s have a living space that promotes their physical and mental well-being. Setting up a room and your home for your loved one should not be a challenge with some tips that we are about to share with you. If you want to know more, make sure to read further!
Responsibilities of a caretaker
As a caretaker, you have the responsibility to design an environment for people with Alzheimer’s or any form of memory loss that can help maintain their sense of control and promote their functional skills. Before decorating the patient’s room, you must think about what the patient can still do, rather than what the patient can no longer do due to their illness. That way, you can design the room in a way that caters to their habits and independence.
For instance, various daily tasks rely on a person’s implicit memory—the memory that was picked up and encoded in the brain without conscious thought, such as washing your face. This type of memory lingers long after the signs of memory loss take place. By creating an environment that tickles the Alzheimer’s patient’s implicit memory, you can support his/her sense of security and control.
Personalize the room
Visual stimulation is very important when decorating a room. Make your loved one feel at home by surrounding him/her with mementos, photos, and other items that will help the patient maintain his/her sense of belonging and identity. You can decorate the room according to the patient’s hobbies, passion, or favorite colors.
However, try avoiding using vibrant, energetic colors like red, orange, and purple, since they tend to be overstimulating to someone with memory loss. As much as possible, stick to calming, neutral colors like blue, brown, or pale yellow. Contrast colors between furniture, fixtures, and other paraphernalia to help the patient differentiate between different surfaces. For example, contrast bed linens and drapes with floors and walls. Avoid busy patterns because this can cause trouble with their spatial awareness.
Choosing the best furniture and other design materials
Keep in mind that comfort precedes design when it comes to decorating an Alzheimer’s patient’s room. Avoid reconfiguring furniture unless highly necessary. If you have to do it, make sure to discuss why the furniture is different by emphasizing the advantages. Keep the chairs well padded as well. For the table, it should be round in shape instead of square or rectangular to avoid painful corner bumps and injuries.
Hardwood floors must be covered with carpet and windows should be draped to block unnecessary exterior noises that can be disorientating for the Alzheimer’s patient.
The use of mirrors
It’s a wise choice to avoid putting mirrors inside the patient’s room. Because of their poor memory, there’s a high chance that they would not recognize himself/herself in the mirror, which could lead to frustration and confusion.
Bathroom safety tips
Only install necessary bathroom equipment. Too much bathroom furniture can be too overwhelming to the patient. Install a shower chair and grab bars near the toilet, bathtub, and shower. Cover slippery surfaces with non-skid strips to avoid slipping.
Also, use a foam rubber faucet cover in the bathtub to help prevent injuries should the patient fall in the bathtub. Secure potentially dangerous products and electrical appliances by installing child-proof latches on cabinets and drawers. Another thing to consider is the door locks—consider removing these to avoid the patient from accidentally locking himself/herself inside.
Consider installing a baby monitor to help you determine if the patient needs help. If the patient usually gets up at night to eat, drink, or use the bathroom, encourage him/her to meet these needs before bedtime.
Make sure to cover unused electrical outlets and fix any wiring problems. Keep lamps and other appliances out of reach and near outlets to decrease the likelihood of tripping on the cords.
Ensuring a safe space for a person with Alzheimer’s disease not only helps preserve a sense of self and purpose in life. It is also an invaluable gift not anyone can give, so make sure to make the most of it!