Help For Caregivers

It could be one of the most difficult challenges you’ll ever face. Caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease. Seventy percent are cared for at home, but that can be a confusing, even dangerous place. A new guide offers hope to thousands of families.

Frank and Therese have been married for 50 years, but for Therese, the memories are slowly fading. “It’s like a locomotive that’s going to run out of control, and it’s chugging along and chugging along,” says Frank.

Therese has Alzheimer’s disease, which makes simple tasks difficult. Her husband says she lives in a world of forgetfulness and confusion.

Mark, an author and architect, says, “You have to understand the disease, understand what the world looks like through their eyes and what it means.” Mark has designed a simple guide to make caregivers’ homes safer for Alzheimer’s patients. It’s called “The Complete Guide to Alzheimer’s Proofing Your Home.”

“The first problem we have in the bathroom is if you listen, the fan goes on, and that can be very agitating and upsetting for person with Alzheimer’s disease,” says Mark. To make the home safer, get rid of loud noises and slippery throw rugs. Buy passage locks for doors so that no one can be locked in or out of a room.


Closets: A big wardrobe creates too many choices, which often leads to confusion.
Mirrors: In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, mirrors encourage grooming. However, as the disease progresses, people with Alzheimer’s do not recognize their reflection. Some may think it’s a ghost or a stranger. During that stage, it’s best to cover or remove mirrors.
Black or dark-colored floor tiles and throw rugs: These may look like “holes” to someone with Alzheimer’s. As a result, walking across a checkered floor or a rug can cause terror.
TV: Violence on television can often seem real to people with Alzheimer’s. Some people believe what’s taking place on the television screen is actually taking place outside their door.

Aware now of the pitfalls in his home, Frank’s ready for the challenges ahead. “As a caregiver you become the crutch. You’re their safety valve. You’re the one that they need the most,” he says.

Another useful tip for caregivers is to put up signs throughout the house. This will help people with Alzheimer’s remember where things are kept.

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