As we age, our home doesn’t always keep up with our changing body and changing memory. This can be a challenge for anyone but especially for those hoping to age at home but may have a condition that impacts their memory- such as Alzheimer's or dementia.
Designing the home to better support various symptoms of these conditions is crucial to you or a loved one staying safe at home. Luckily, there are a variety of home modifications that can be implemented for someone with Alzheimer's or dementia, especially if they are working with a home health aid or daily caregiver.
One way to help with memory loss and reduce safety risks at home is by using memory aids such as household labels.
Household labels are an easy-to-use home modification and can be used in a variety of ways based on one’s specific memory needs. For example, one can use these labels for organization to keep track of which shelf the groceries go on, or activity labels can remind a person when they last took their medication.
What Can Help With Memory Loss?
Remembering important things can get more difficult as we age. This can include things like taking medications, doing household chores, or even just keeping track of our belongings. For those with a condition that directly impacts memory loss, remembering types of rooms or where things are stored can be even more challenging.
It’s important to realize that someone’s ability to safely age at home is a combination of the progression of their symptoms and the household environment. There are many people with early stages of dementia who are more than capable of living safely at home and simple memory aid solutions can make a world of difference.
If you or a loved one has questions about the ability to safely age at home and what home modifications might be most appropriate for specific needs - you can schedule a free home safety checkup through Jukebox Health. We’re more than happy to pair you with a licensed occupational therapist.
Household Labels Are A Start
While household labels can be a great help, they aren't a cure-all for those whose condition will progress. It’s important to stay aware of one’s specific needs and decide when the home environment may need additional upgrades to best support safe living.
In addition to household labels there are other things one can do to maintain a sense of independence and normalcy.
- Establishing routine: Having a set routine can help provide a sense of structure for older adults who are aging at home. This can include things like taking a daily walk, reading the newspaper, or taking medications at the same time each day.
- Staying socially connected: It's important to stay socially connected as we age. This can be done in many different ways, such as joining a club, attending religious services, or volunteering.
- Keeping mentally and physically active: Both mental and physical activity are important for maintaining cognitive function. Puzzles, playing cards, and learning a new skill can all help keep the mind sharp. Staying physically active through things like walking can also help improve overall health.
- Implement adaptive clothing: When dressing or bathing, it is a great practice to allow an older adult to do as much as they safely can. This can encourage them to continue working through daily tasks. There are a variety of great home modifications to encourage this throughout the day including easy-to-wear clothing or a shower chair.
Other Ways To Use Household Labels for Older Adults
There are also a variety of ways to use household labels for aiding memory.
- Organization labels: These can be used to keep track of household items, such as where groceries should be stored, or which medications need to be taken when.
- Activity labels: These can remind older adults of important tasks that need to be completed, such as taking medications.
- Photo labels: These can help older adults identify different household items, such as which light switch controls which light.
Things To Keep In Mind
If you're interested in using household labels as memory aids, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, make sure that the labels are big and easy to read. You'll also want to use bright colors or patterns. It's a good idea to put the labels in multiple places so that they can be seen from different angles.
Once you have the labels, you'll need to decide what to put on them. For household items, you'll want to use labeling tape or stickers that are waterproof and durable. You can also write directly on the labels with a permanent marker. For activity labels, you'll want to use something that can be easily removed, such as masking tape or post-it notes. This way, you can change the activities as needed.
Finally, make sure to put the labels where they will be most helpful. For example, if you're labeling light switches, put the label near or on the switch so that it's easy to see. If you're labeling medications, put the label on the medication bottle or the cabinet they are kept in.
By using household labels as memory aids, you can make aging at home a little bit easier. And with home modifications you can ensure safety for the years to come.
Other Memory Aids For Older Adults
Lastly, there are also many different types of apps, smart devices, and software programs that can be used as memory aids for older adults. For example, one may consider implementing:
- Daily planners: These can help older adults keep track of appointments, social engagements, and other important events.
- Pill manager: This can help to keep track of medication schedules and make sure one is taking the correct dose at the correct time.
- Locator devices: These devices easily attach to a household item, such as a phone or wallet. Using a small tractor tag one can click a button and the tag will beep.
Safety At Home
Memory aids can be extremely helpful for older adults who wish to age at home but don’t have a home environment that can best support those changing memories. By using clear and concise aids, such as household labels, older adults can design the home for safe aging.
If you have any questions about using household labels as memory aids, or if you need help getting started, contact Jukebox Health to connect with an occupational therapist who specializes in home modifications and aging at home. They can help you come up with an individualized plan to manage memory loss or other symptoms of Alzheimer's and Dementia.