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Is Your Home Ready for Age Related Challenges, Including Alzheimer’s?

By Mike Good May 28, 2016 Health and Fitness

Your home probably wasn’t built with your aging body in mind. As a woman in her 60s or better, you understand: the lighting is inadequate, trip hazards are everywhere, shelving is either too high or too low and the bathroom has suddenly become an unsafe area.

Is Your House Keeping Up?

As we age, we have additional challenges that affect how our home “works” for us. You might have a bum knee which makes stairs a challenge. Maybe you tweaked your shoulder and, now, taking dinner plates down results in a sharp pain. Or maybe your loved one has a more serious condition, like Alzheimer’s, which affects his cognitive abilities.

Unfortunately, rather than make modifications, you will likely continue to struggle with these unfriendly aspects of your home environment. But, this will almost certainly lead to additional injuries, frustration, and, potentially, a premature move to assisted living.

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

There are many home improvements you can make to help everyone live safely and happily.

Many improvements can be done on your own, but there are many professionals who can also help, and their services should be considered.

In the meantime, there’s no reason you shouldn’t start with some inexpensive improvements yourself.

For example, improved lighting throughout the home adds safety while helping you see that small print on product labels… or just read a good book in bed. It can also help eliminate shadows, which can cause issues for a person with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

You can also eliminate the need for a step stool by moving items to a more accessible level. But remember, if your loved one with Alzheimer’s is accustomed to finding his favorite coffee mug in a specific location, moving it for your benefit, may cause him to become frustrated if he can’t find it.

Bathrooms are often the most unsafe place in a home. And, if you’re trying to help someone with a mobility issue or unique needs due to Alzheimer’s, maneuvering around each other in a small space only increases the risk for injury.

Inexpensive bathroom improvements may include things such as grab bars, non-slip mats, or maybe a shower seat. In other cases, a more expensive approach that involves a complete accessibility makeover may be required. An interior designer is the appropriate professional to hire in this case.

Anticipating and Preventing Problems Around the House is Key

As we age, our abilities change and common activities become more challenging. Some of our challenges will be similar to those of our peers, while others will be unique to us.

For instance, one in nine Americans over 65 will also start to experience some sort of cognitive challenge associated with Alzheimer’s disease. If you or your loved one is in this group, you can also take specific steps to make your home Alzheimer’s friendly.

It’s important to evaluate your home to understand where it’s not meeting your needs or the needs of your loved one. Start by noting how you or your loved one interacts with your home, especially identifying areas of danger. Then prioritize and start taking action.

Some improvements are inexpensive, while others can become pricey. But in the big picture, all are less expensive than medical bills or assisted living.

Your home must be a place of safety and happiness. You can age gracefully on your terms, but you’ll have to take these improvement actions to do so.

Is your home meeting your needs, or is it posing daily challenges? Please join the conversation.

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The Author

Mike Good is the founder of Together in This, an online community helping family members caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Through short, informative articles and easy-to-use tools, such as the Introductory Guide to Alzheimer’s, he helps them take control and have peace-of-mind they are doing the right things.

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