ASK PETER: All You Would Like to Know About Senior Care, Dementia, and Alzheimer's Care

My mom in Manchester CT has Alzheimer’s Disease. We downsized her place, but now she seems lost in the new home.

By Peter DiMaria

Dementia Care and Alzheimer's Care in Manchester CT

People suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia have a hard time coping with change. That is because the disease first affects areas of the brain which store recent memories. Therefore, moving to a new place is a huge thing for your mom. Before, she was living in a home that she had for years, before the disease. She had lots of old memories of the place and was used to know where things were stored.

Now, even if the house is smaller and more practical, it is hard for her to adapt, because she can’t memorize the design of the house, she doesn’t identify the cabinets and she probably feels lost and scared, at times.

Alzheimer's Care at Home

Don’t worry. People with Alzheimer's can live in their homes, with the use of some safety measures. Over time, as the disease progresses, more adaptations may be needed and you should be ready to use your creativity to help her. There are a few simple changes that you can make to help her move around, find the things she needs and feel comfortable. Here are some suggestions:

  • Try to eliminate doors. If possible, remove them. Alzheimer’s patients feel scared when they are inside a room they don’t know, with doors closed. They can’t remember what is behind the door and that feeling causes fear and anxiety;
  • Where a door is necessary, like the bathroom, put signs on both sides of the door. On one side you can put the picture of a toilet, so she will know the restroom is in there if she needs it. On the other side, write EXIT with large letters, so she will know what to do. Speak with her to determine which symbols, words and/or letters work better for her;
  • On every cabinet in the house, including wardrobes and dressers, place a picture of what is inside, on the door. This will make it easier for her to find what she needs when she needs it;
  • If she likes to go outside for a walk, she might not be able to remember which house is hers. Place an object that is meaningful to her, in front of the house. This way she may be able to identify which is her home. Alternatively, you may put her photograph or the picture of someone she loves, on the door;
  • People with Alzheimer’s have a hard time finding light switches, mainly when they are the same color as the wall. Place a colorful frame around all the switches in the home, to help her identify them;
  • Alzheimer’s patients tend to forget how to use home appliances. Put visual instructions next to the objects, so they can quickly figure out how to do it.
  • Alzheimer’s affects balance and increases the risk of falls. To keep your mom from falling remove rugs, carpets, coffee table, and other small objects to increase her mobility and security.
  • Plan activities with your mom. Stay with her as much as you can. Don't leave her unsupervised.

 Security and Alzheimer’s Care

 Over time, Alzheimer’s patients may pose a security threat to themselves and others. Additional measures are needed to keep your mom from unwittingly hurting herself or other people around her. You will have to restrict her access and use of the stove, tools, cleaning products, medicine, and sharp objects. Don’t wait until the moment arrives. Take these measures before they are necessary.

Home Care Help

Eventually, your mom will need the constant supervision of a caregiver. Consider talking to other family members to plan the future and be ready for when the crisis arises. Hiring a private caregiver, even if only for a few hours a day, or for overnight shifts, goes a long way in helping your mom to be able to continue to live independently, in her own house.

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