When a loved one develops dementia, they forget where they are and a lot about their routine changes. They forget where they’ve placed things. Often, they’ll wander out of their house, confused about their surroundings. It’s easier for them to forget important dates, events, names, and faces. While being admitted to a nursing home may be the best option for some patients, others desire (or have family that desire for them) to age in place. For many, aging in place offers an ideal circumstance for life in old age, despite how sharp their memory may be. Aging in place often helps those with dementia and forgetfulness because they are immersed in familiar surroundings with familiar people; their condition may only be agitated when they are admitted into a nursing home or hospice facility.
What, then, can be done to keep the elderly with dementia safe in their homes? Here’s a list of home improvement ideas and how they can help your loved one with dementia stay safe:
Replace stairs with ramps.
It’s easy to forget the number of steps there are on a staircase or leading to a front door; it’s even easier to forget that there are stairs when you have dementia. Consider replacing stairs with ramps or motorized chair ramps to avoid fatal falls.
Install door alerts.
When the elderly become confused with their surroundings and wander away from their homes, it can be frightening for their family members as they try to locate them. Consider installing door alerts to notify anyone in the house when doors open (and which door it is). If other family members live with the elderly, they will be able to quickly react and direct them back inside before becoming lost or injured.
Remodel the bathroom.
The elderly are especially vulnerable and susceptible to injury when they are bathing; slippery tile and cabinet corners make them more likely to slip and hit their heads, often causing severe bone breakage or life-threatening concussions. This is especially concerning for those with dementia, who may become confused with where they are or forget that they are in an environment that is slippery and dangerous. Consider remodeling their bathroom to have a walk-in bathtub or seated-shower option with railings, making it easier for them to maintain mobility. Floors can be made with slick-resistant material or covered in small carpets and mats to help avoid falls and minimize the damage if one does occur.
These are just some of how homes can be optimized to protect the elderly with dementia; in reality, the options are endless. Click here for more ideas about aging in place and more information about protecting your elderly loved ones: