Adapting the Home for Alzheimer’s Care


Dr. Michael Roman, Dr Elizabeth O’ Mahony

Bluewater Clinical Research Group

Many families opt to provide care for their elderly loved ones with dementia in the comfort of their own home. However, concerns often arise about whether the home environment can adequately meet their evolving needs. For those facing Alzheimer's disease or similar conditions, it's crucial to consider creative adaptations to ensure the home remains suitable as cognitive abilities change over time.

As the disease progresses, changes in the brain can lead to misinterpretations of sounds, objects, and conversations, or even hallucinations. Experts advise making simple adjustments to address these challenges. Improving lighting to remove shadows and glare can help alleviate feelings of fear. Removing mirrors can reduce confusion and opting for solid-color walls over patterns can minimize triggers for illusions. Additionally, strategically placing labels and signs throughout the house can aid in navigation, as individuals with Alzheimer's often retain their ability to read well into the later stages of the disease.

In addition to these measures, there are other modifications to enhance safety including:

Preventing Falls: Dementia-related changes may reduce awareness of fall risks. Clearing clutter and removing tripping hazards like throw rugs can help. Rearranging furniture to create more open space and installing grab bars in the bathroom and sturdy handrails on stairs are also advisable. Consider using safety gates across stairs if navigation poses a risk.

Preventing Wandering: Wandering is a significant concern for families of loved ones with dementia. Installing special locks on doors, safety gates, and alarms can help prevent unaccompanied exits.

Reducing Fire and Burn Risks: Some activities may no longer be safe without supervision, such as cooking, bathing, and using heaters. Installing safety knobs on the stove, removing flammable substances, and setting the hot water heater to a safe temperature are crucial steps. Additionally, using visual reminders, such as red tape around heating devices, can help raise awareness of potential dangers.

By implementing these adaptations, you can create a safer and more supportive environment for your loved one with Alzheimer's, ensuring their comfort and well-being as their condition progresses.