In the first stage of Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss is not as pronounced as in the later stages of the disease. People still remember places they live in and familiar faces. They are still lucid and involved in their own decisions. If your loved one lives alone, you may wonder if he lives in a safe environment. If you believe the environment may not be safe, you can hire a geriatric care manager to assess the situation, and if necessary (and if your finances support it), in-home care to come and visit your loved one on a daily basis. Those people will be able to report back to you and you will be more relaxed knowing your loved one is getting good care.
If a geriatric care manager is not appropriate, and your loved one is not living with you, you may have to move your loved one closer to you. You can discuss the situation with him. If he were to live with you, would he need constant supervision or would he be safe alone while you are gone? If you feel more comfortable with supervision and you feel it is needed, you can call social services or check the Alzheimer’s Association for help in locating an in-home aide. They may have a list of people that are qualified to help with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
If your loved one should live with you, you will have to make it a safe environment. Make sure you have no clutter on the floor, pick up any magazines, potted flowers, and make space between furniture so he can go around without any problems. Your home will have to be as safe as possible. If your loved one lives with you, he may at first feel disoriented. This is part of Alzheimer’s disease. While most people can easily distinguish among many different noises, colors, or patterns in a room, your loved one with Alzheimer’s may feel confused or overwhelmed. Because of this, you need to create a calm environment that will be familiar, quiet and comfortable.
In reorganizing your home to make it a safe environment you will have to focus on consistency. Keep furniture in the same place; just move them apart a little bit. Help your loved one maintain a connection with the past and familiar faces. Familiar objects such as framed photographs, or a piece of clothing that he likes, will make it easier on him. Use contrast. A person with Alzheimer’s may not be able to distinguish between an off-white door and a beige wall. Make sure you pay attention to flooring and keep it simple. Use flooring that cuts down on glare. If it is too shiny the person with Alzheimer’s may think it is wet. You can use carpet to avoid slipping.
Maintaining a safe, secure environment is best for everybody. Not only will it make your loved one physically safe, but it will also give you peace of mind.