10 Home hacks every Alzheimer's caregiver needs
As an Alzheimer’s caregiver for my 56-year-old mom, I have a greater appreciation for technological advances and innovative products.
These inventions weren’t necessarily created for those with Alzheimer’s, but they make things much easier for us at home. Whether some of these manufacturers realize it or not, they’re helping people in more ways than one.
Some are very simple but not all of these will work for everyone. No approach is fool proof and some are costly investments — but if you’re an Alzheimer’s caregiver, you’re already familiar with the costs associated with this disease.
Here are some home makeovers that have personally helped me and my family make our lives slightly less difficult.
1. Invest in an induction stove
These stoves are a luxury. You won’t find them in any ordinary kitchen, but they’re the safest way to cook. Unlike the glass covering on a traditional electric stovetop, the glass on an induction cooktop doesn’t heat the pan. Instead, a magnet excites the molecules in the pan and cooks the food directly because the pan itself becomes the cooking surface.
When my mom makes eggs for breakfast in the morning, she doesn’t always remember to turn off the stove. Now, our induction stove turns off when the pan or pot is removed from the burner. This gives me peace of mind in rare times my mom is alone in the kitchen.
2. Use smart outlets
There are many different kinds of outlets to buy and invest in, but these Connect Sense outlets allow you to control the outlet through an application powered by your home Wi-Fi. With these outlets, you’re able to customize settings to automatically turn off the lights with a timer, lock your doors, close the garage door and even set the thermostat.
3. Install timed lighting and dimmers
We all forget to turn off the lights from time to time, so bringing these lights into your home is beneficial for everyone. Lowe’s has hardwired lighting timers for around $70 and will help you save big on your energy bill.
These Lutron dimmers are perfect for keeping energy consumption down while still providing enough light in the room. Each dimmer automatically saves approximately four to nine percent in electricity over the standard light switch. They’re super affordable and create a more comfortable, relaxed setting.
4. Illuminate the room with flameless candles
I’m a huge fan of candles and use them all the time. Nothing helps me wind down like the aroma of fresh candles at night. For my mom, she still enjoys the little things — but the thought of her falling asleep and forgetting to blow out a candle is a terrifying one.
Step into the candle section at any Bed Bath & Beyond and it’s almost overwhelming. In my most recent visit to this glorious establishment, I noticed there were several options for Flickering Flames, which are battery powered and don't actually have a flame. These are great to use around children, parties and, of course, a person affected by Alzheimer’s disease. These candles come in many different scents and dance like a real flame.
5. Make the staircase easier to see
People with Alzheimer’s may lose visual perception as the disease progresses. Those affected with Alzheimer’s disease may have trouble with perception and are more likely to fall. Research from Boston University suggests highlighting the edges of steps with lights or tape to provide contrast.
For a staircase, make sure the stairs are free of clutter and brightly lit. While a window at the top of the stairs is beautiful, it can cause a glare to those walking up the stairs. Pull down the window shade and brighten the overhead lighting.
6. Use child safety locks for medicine cabinets
It sounds cruel to lock an adult out of a medicine cabinet, but it’s necessary in extreme conditions. It’s important to keep all medication out of reach to avoid accidental overdosing. Although some pill containers have days of the week on them, a person with Alzheimer’s may not know what day it is.
7. Keep a familiar music playlist for difficult times
At any given time, someone with Alzheimer’s may become overly sensitive, aggressive or saddened by a misunderstood comment taken out of context. Playing "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips or anything by The Dixie Chicks seems to put my mom in a good mood when we’re driving or when she’s upset. It never hurts to keep a few playlists looping softly in the background to aid in maintaining peace and positive attitudes in your home.
8. Try an iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner
One thing comes to mind when I think of the vacuum cleaner my dad recently purchased: Set it and forget it. Despite her obsession for cleanliness when I was a kid, my mom no longer remembers to clean. Dust bunnies from the dogs can accumulate pretty fast.
The Roomba vacuums have a mind of their own and when they’re done cleaning, they return to their dock to recharge. Its settings allow you to program a time for it to clean your floors and carpets when it’s convenient for you — like when you’re out and about.
9. Pick up a couple of night lights
This is by far one of the easiest things you can do. Nightlights are extremely affordable and serve the same purpose for everyone. In the middle of the night, a person suffering from Alzheimer’s may forget where they are. Having these lights is a surefire way to help them find their way to the bathroom or kitchen for a glass of water.
10. Swap out your dual-faucet for a single-temperature one
Single-handle temperatures have quickly made their way into homes and have since become the most popular type of faucet. Something like this chrome single-handle single-temperature faucet comes in handy because it avoids any initial shock of water that’s too hot or too cold. They’re easy to install and keep clean.