The Whitworths of Arizona, bringing science to you in everyday language.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Lewy-Friendly Home, Part 2

Last week, I talked about remodeling your home to make it Lewy-friendly. That can be costly even though you save in the long run by being able to keep your loved one home longer. However, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to do many things to make your present home more Lewy-friendly—and safe.

Make walking paths that are wide, straight, direct and as free from furniture as possible.

Simplify, and remove unnecessary clutter. If you don’t need a piece of furniture or an item in a room remove it. This is both a focus issue and a safety issue. The more open space in a room, the less confusing it will be and the easier it will be to navigate without falling.

Remove area rugs. Rugs may soften a fall, but they can also cause them when a person with feet that may not work really well trip over a rumpled edge.

Pad sharp corners and edges. Swimming noodles cut in half work well for this.

Consider padding your bedroom floor. A couple of issues make falls in bedrooms especially common. One is the presence of Active Dreams, where a person may be so active in their dreams that they fall out of bed. The other is Orthostatic hypotension (OH) or low blood pressure on rising. The large foam interlocking squares sometimes used for garage floors work well. They are firm enough for easy walking yet provide some padding for falls. Try just a small area first, to see how your loved one manages.

Have lockable danger areas, with alarms if possible. Use keyed locks, not deadbolts, which can be much too easy to operate on outside doors, the garage, or anyplace with access to dangerous equipment.

Lower the hot water temperature to no more than 110 degrees, to avoid burns. Most dishwashers have an internal hot water heater and most laundry detergents now do a fine job with cold or warm water. Therefore, a hotter temperature isn't needed.

Use good (soft, non-glare) lighting. This reduces the dark areas and shadows that can cause confusion. You want to be able to see well enough to avoid falls and bumping into the furniture.

Install  a “baby” monitor. This allows you to see what your loved one is doing when you are out of the room. However, it may not not help when you aren't watching, as when you are asleep--there's no alarm.

Use pressure monitors. These have an alarm will alert you if your loved one gets up from bed or chair. You can get the kind that sounds in the same room, alerting your loved one too. If that would only confuse them or if you wouldn’t hear it there, you can get monitors with alarms that sound where you are.

Place foam swimming noodles near the edge of the bed, under the bottom sheet. This may keep your loved one from getting out of bed at night without your help.

Use a baby gate to block off stairs. Also, if you are already using a hospital bed with rails, put a baby gate at the end to stop your loved one from crawling out that way. 

You can find the mats and monitors in the Supplies section of the LBD Book Corner on

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