Is Aging In Place Viable With Dementia?
How to Make Aging in Place With Dementia Safe
As more aging-friendly home solutions become available, more and more seniors are choosing to age in place. However, this decision does not come as easily for elderly people with dementia. This isn’t a surprise since having dementia comes with specific needs that don’t apply to other seniors.
Does this mean that your loved one with dementia can’t age in place? Of course not. Like other elderly people, they should be able to have the opportunity to live out their senior years in their own homes. However, certain modifications must be done to their houses to make sure they can do so safely.
Why Are These Home Modifications Important?
Making these changes to the patient’s home is crucial if they are to age in place because many dementia-related factors make falls more likely. A senior with dementia can experience a decline in strength, balance, visuospatial abilities, and many other functions. These symptoms, coupled with the fact that their home may no longer be as familiar to them, can lead to falls.
Before evaluating the specific rooms of the home, it is important to consider how easily someone with dementia can navigate the house in general. This is why it is important to take a look at the hallways around the home.
Are there any unnecessary clutter and furniture in the way, such as bulky decorations or extra seating and cabinets? These are things you need to get rid of. Whether the dementia patient has limited mobility or not, making sure they have clear pathways will prevent them from falling. This will also make room for easy access if they are using a wheelchair or will need to use one in the future.
Another modification tip for these areas is to install grab bars or handrails along the hallways. This will help the patient go from one part of the house to another without losing balance.
The home’s floor is a significant consideration when it comes to making a place aging-friendly for all seniors, particularly those with dementia. Depending on how slippery the surface may be, it can be a hazard that leads to falls.
Getting the patient non-slip slippers and shoes is a given that will be helpful when it comes to this concern. However, one’s home must be safe enough regardless of what footwear your patient is wearing, including instances when they are barefoot. A home modification solution for this problem is placing anti-slip stickers all over your floors or coating your floors with paint that has anti-slip additives.
It’s also important to get rid of rugs as they can be slipping hazards too. If the patient is attached to these rugs and finds that it makes the home more familiar to them, getting anti-slip rug underlays will work too.
With dementia, navigating all types of spaces without falling becomes a lot more difficult. This is particularly true when it comes to non-flat areas, such as stairs. So, if the patient has enough mobility to use the stairs, it’s crucial to make modifications that will make it safer. This includes installing handrails to both sides of the stairs. Handrails are vital for keeping one’s balance when going up and down the stairs and avoiding falls.
For added safety, consider installing a stair gate at the top of the stairway as well. This will prevent seniors with dementia from falling down the steps if they lose their balance while walking by the stairs.
Having a bedroom that is fall-proof is important because it ensures that the patient can start and end their day safely.
One modification that will be helpful is motion sensor lights. This way, the patient won’t have to remember to turn the lights on and off when needed. This is especially important when they’re waking up in the middle of the night because they won’t need to fumble in the dark for a switch, which could cause falls. Consider adding these lights throughout the rest of the house as well.
Another fall prevention solution is to get them a step stool with grab bars, such as the step2bed, for their bed. Many seniors, particularly dementia patients, are prone to accidents when getting in or out of bed. With the step2bed, they will get the support and balance that they need while doing so. The step2bed’s motion-activated LED light will even ensure that the patient can see where they’re stepping, and its extra-wide landing base and height-adjustable steps make this product perfect for seniors of almost any size.
To make the bathroom a safe place for the patient, it is vital to take extra steps in eliminating all slipping hazards because of how slippery this room can get. In addition to adding anti-slip adhesives throughout the floor, place them in the bathtub or shower floor as well.
Adding grab bars and handrails and a stepstool, like the step2tub, around the room is also helpful. Not only will this prevent patients from slipping, but these products can also provide the support that they need when getting in and out of the tub or shower or when they’re getting up from the toilet. Patients will be able to prevent themselves from exerting too much effort when doing these actions, and their muscles are less likely to get strained.
For the kitchen, store all essentials at waist-level to prevent patients from having to reach for items, which can lead to loss of balance and falls. Getting organizers for the counter or easy-to-reach drawers and cupboards will maximize the space that they can access without difficulty.
Labeling everything is crucial as well. For many people with dementia, getting ingredients and substances mixed up can be common. This is a huge food safety risk. So, making big and clear labels that will tell them what the contents of certain bottles, jars, and other containers are will help.
When it comes to fire hazards, one must remember that dementia patients may often forget to turn off appliances, like stoves. To remedy this, buy an automatic stove shut-off device for the kitchen. These gadgets are on the pricier side but are a great way to make sure your patient stays safe.
Make These Changes Now
Taking care of a dementia patient in their home, especially if they are your loved one, can be physically and emotionally overwhelming. However, these home modifications can mitigate some of these challenges. Not only will these changes make it easier to care for the patient, but it will also keep them as safe and comfortable as they can be.