Thursday, August 19, 2010

Readying the Home for a Family Member

Kathryn Haslanger has an excellent piece on The Huffington Post about why and how best to adapt a home to accommodate a family member with Alzheimer's or other dementia. She interviews Jennifer E. Anderson, who notes that it is best to make modifications early.

Ms. Anderson explained that because dementia patients are very resistant to changes in their environment, and this resistance only increases over time, the earlier modifications can be made, the better. In preparation, she suggests incorporating changes early on that a patient cannot remove down the road. "I tell my caregivers: Because dementia patients are so resistant to change, they will do anything possible to restore their former environment. If an adaptation is removable, I guarantee a dementia patient will try to remove it!"

Some other suggestions for modifying a home, according to the article:

-Replace bathroom towel racks with sturdier grab bars.
-Reduce kitchen clutter and always keep standard equipment and dishware in the same spot.
-Remove stove knobs to prevent stove use (and misuse); instead, encourage microwave use to heat food.
-Set up a personal emergency response system that requires just a button press to sound an alarm.
-In latter stages of dementia, consider removing mirros since patients sometimes are frightened when they no longer recognize the face staring back at them.

Article: Adapting Your Home for Families Members with Alzheimer's or Dementia