Dementia is a brain disorder that causes behavioral changes and changes in mental cognition for those living with the disease. There are some home modifications that can be put into place to help caretakers assist those afflicted with the disease. Following are some ideas that may help. They are by no means the only ideas and not all of these ideas will apply to all situations.
Those living with dementia, a debilitating disease that includes the more readily recognized term Alzheimer’s Disease, tend to lose the ability to remember names, arrange thoughts coherently and forget their current surroundings. As the disease progresses, communication becomes more difficult for the sufferer.
- Creating a home that is safe and comfortable for both caretaker and individual is very important. Low maintenance should also be high on the list of recommended decisions so that the caretaker does not get overwhelmed and if accidents occur, it can be cleaned up quickly and with minor effort.
- Individuals with dementia tend to wander. There are several reasons for this and more information can be obtained from many valuable resources both online and with the healthcare provider. Some ways to deal with the wandering include keeping the home quiet and keeping background noise to a minimum. Installing child proof locks and latches high on doors may help deter wondering to unsafe areas. Keeping keys out of sight is also recommended. Posting signs on the doors like bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom can help with orientation. Even posting a stop sign on the door to the exterior or unsafe areas may help with preventing wandering to dangerous areas.
- Long term memory is not affected to the extent of short term memory in those that suffer from the disease so keeping familiar items where they can be seen can help the individual feel safer and less agitated. Keeping the space organized and free of clutter can also help reduce anxiety, one of the possible causes for wandering.
- Night time and sun downing (when the person becomes increasingly agitated as evening advances) can be hard for both the caretaker and the person with dementia. There are some sleeping arrangements that can be done to possibly help reduce the agitation. Make sure that the person’s bedroom is cool, conducive to sleep and comfortable. Also make sure the bedding and pajamas are very comfortable and do not restrict movement. Remember to have familiar objects in the space; possibly a favorite soft blanket or pillow and other soft items that will create a safe haven. Include a nightlight in the space but not one that is overly bright as it could inhibit the natural sleep process. Too much light can interrupt the sleep process.
- Adequate night-time lighting is important so that if wandering does occur, it will not be hazardous. Make sure that all cords are out of the way, there are no obstacles lurking and the wanderer can easily find the bathroom and the way back to their room. Do not forget to make sure the person receives enough sunlight during the day. It helps restore the body’s natural time clock and could help reduce sleep problems.
There are many things that should be considered when taking care of someone who suffers from Dementia. With some safety precautions and comfort guidelines, those caring for suffers may reduce some of the common problems that happen in the course of the disease.
Information about Dementia for this article came from several sources including the Lewy Body Dementia Association (http://lbda.org/) and National Association of Home Builders Certified Aging in Place Specialist materials.