If your loved one is living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, these lifestyle tips can help at home.
Design and remodeling is about problem solving, and there are easy ways to help our clients and friends who have a family member living with dementia.
For something that seems as simple as eating, it can be confusing when there are perception and sensory issues from the disease. Patterns, options, and color can be difficult to interpret for some with Alzheimer’s. There are a few things that we can do to make the experience of sharing a meal with an Alzheimer’s loved one better and way less stressful for everyone.
Here are a few design tips to make any meal easier for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease:
Sturdy table. Make sure your table can support the weight of your loved one, as it may be used in sitting down or standing up
Strong, low-armed chairs. The chairs needs to be sturdy, but also easy to get in and out of. For chairs with arms, it can be tough to know how to sit in between the arms, and then exit them when there’s a table involved.
Solid, not patterned. Patterned fabrics on chairs and tablecloths can be confusing. For some with Alzheimer’s, the pattern of flowers may seem real, and make it difficult to convince your loved one to sit or dine on a bed of flower
Clear the area. Beyond just removing items from the walking path to the dining chair, remove more than what is needed. The Alzheimer’s brain sometimes thinks that items are closer than they really are.
Serve one-at-a-time. It may be time consuming, but it’s helpful to serve only one item of each meal at a time. This also can help with the decision dilemma of remembering if a spoon or a fork should be used to eat soup.
Soothing scents. While the sense of smell starts to decline for someone with Alzheimer’s, odors that are positive and familiar from their past are the best kind. Plug-ins and battery-operated scented candles can be perfect.
Natural light. Light becomes more important in the life of someone with Alzheimer’s. Not only are there issues with Sundowners, but there are also issues as we all age with the yellow tinting of our sight, and the narrowing of our vision. The more there is natural daylight, and the more even the light can be at night, the easier and less stressed it will be for an Alzheimer’s household.