Designing space for Alzhiemer's resident
bobhopman
February 14, 2013 in Design Dilemma
My 95 year old monther is comming to live with us. We are puttine in an appartment for her in our walk out lower level. Need advice on material selections, lighting and color.
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PRO
Liza Jane Interiors
Safety first. Make sure that bathroom is outfitted with the proper safety pulls in shower and toilet area. The shower should be a walk in without any type of heigth at floor level. It might behoove you to hire an Aging in Place Specialist to help you with all of these details.
4 Likes   February 14, 2013 at 7:55AM
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Cancork Floor Inc.
Hi Bobhopman,

I have many clients who are using a cork floor for apartments for parents/elderly. The flooring is easy to install, great for warmth, is very quiet (reduces echos, etc) and can be made "seamless" in the right space. If falls are a concern, cork flooring can be used as a "softest" option. Not as good as a mattress, but better than stone, tile or wood.

The in a walk out situation (with dementia...or anyone prone to wandering) you will want to make sure you have a mechanism (either with door locks OR FENCING) that will ensure your mother will not be able to go "too far" from home. I'm not too sure how mobile she is, so I will assume mobility for the sake of argument.

I know that people with dementia have strong "likes" and dislikes. You may want to sit down with photos from her past as well as some patterns/colours on the side. Many people will pick up a pattern/colour/texture that they like and "finger it". This is a good indication of "like". The opposite is true. A quick grimace and a head turn away from an object/texture will signal dislike...

In many care facilities, the colours are calm and "low profile". They also employ something called a "wandering" vest. A brightly coloured vest/apron that has the person's name and address/room on it. This signals to the staff that the person is in the wrong area and the staff can then contact the appropriate ward/home.

Just some suggestions from a medical technologist cum flooring specialist.
3 Likes   February 14, 2013 at 8:01AM
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soehind
green is a healing colour, so soft green is perfect for elderly.
2 Likes   February 14, 2013 at 8:01AM
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S. Thomas Kutch
Wow..... I'm thinking there are other considerations besides, materials selections, lighting, and color that you need to consider as well.........how ambulatory is she? How progressed in her condition is she? And how bad is she diagnosed to get in these areas? Many Alzheimer patients end up confined to wheel chairs, some even get to the point that they need special equipment (i.e lifts and such).

As far as materials and such.... think what is easily cleanable and fall safe. Floors - cushioned vinyl. Wall corners - rounded. You're big concern is going to be movement. Keep things as simple as possible and as accessible as possible. ( i.e. straight runs for circulation, curbless shower, etc.,etc.). Plan for what you would need if she becomes totally dependent on a wheel chair or walker..... in other words research ADA requirements for space and height requirements for countertops, toilet, sinks, and other elements and don't forget grab bars.

Have you consider furnishings? Would recommend a hospital type bed with positional features and side rails. You also might consider some sort of call button for her to the upper level.

Will there be a point of egress to the outside in this space..........think alarmed egress to alert you to any one coming or going out that point..........especially mom.

Lighting - keep it simple.......wall light switches are best., you don't want mom having to traverse dark or dimly lit areas to turn on beside lights or end table lights.....

Colors - again, keep it simple.......doesn't have to be bland, but don't go hog wild with bright color accented walls. Earth tones and calming colors are best. Sensory over stimulation is the last thing Alzheimer patients need, it quite often causes confusion and panic.

No stove or cooking appliances!

Biggest question is how is 95 year old mom going to do with traversing stairs to the upper level now or in the future?

Trust me, I can empathize with you at this point. Both my mother in law and mom are at that stage (early stages of dimensional deterioration) along with congestive heart failure and physical limitations....... we're past the point of them living with us or any other family members and it's the hardest thing to do to face the issues that we could no longer properly and safely provide care for them. They both in just the past month have had to be placed in assisted living centers for their safety and our peace of mind and health. My mother law was living in an independent care center and since Thanksgiving we've made 5 trips to the ER due to falls. Thankfully no broken bones, but it's just a matter of time, however each trip resulted in stays in the hospital and anywhere from a week to 14 days in a rehab..........this last event she actually had a heart attack while in the hospital.

It's true ... growing old isn't for the weak nor timid........neither is caring for our elderly loved ones and at some point in time our abilities will or do fall short of what they need. My prayers are with you and your mom......God's care to you both.
5 Likes   February 14, 2013 at 8:26AM
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Lumber Liquidators
Cork could be a good option for flooring. It's resilient which relieves stress in the back and legs when standing, and it takes on the temperature of the room so it's good for warm or cold climates.
Also, maintenance is easy. Simply sweep and spot clean. Just an option!
0 Likes   February 14, 2013 at 8:39AM
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nasmijati
@lumber liquidators. Can urine or other digestive malfunctions be cleaned off cork? Does one use an enzyme cleaner afterward, similar to cleaning up after the cat has deposited a hair ball?
0 Likes   April 23, 2013 at 12:00PM
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Cancork Floor Inc.
Here is what we, a group of cork experts know: It is all about the finish and the sealing of the product. LL above me here does not elaborate on what LL's cork can be sealed with - if anything! There are NO MSDS sheets on their cork because they "scrounge" their cork from different suppliers at any time of the day or night. Everything is generic = Lisbon Cork. Cancork knows this because our manufacturer was dropped by LL because we would not offer our European standard cork at their "rock bottom" prices.

I digress. A Forna floor (floating or other wise) will be site finished with 2-3 coats of Loba Supra water based polyurethane. It is chemical resistant to staining and body waste.

Wicander's DO NOT like it when their product is "sealed" - they no longer carry a glue down floor. USFloors use multiple finishes - none of which are "great" for sealing.

Sealing = sealed against body wastes/fluids/spills to prevent "infecting" the floor with all the stuff that comes with human care facilities.

So the answer is: Yes it can be cleaned, or NO IT CAN'T! It all depends on your cork producer, their finish and their recommendations for site-sealing. WE Cork does not ALLOW their cork to be "sealed" = you loose the warranty! Wow! Really? WE Cork is the "little sister" to Wicanders! And their floors can't go in a kitchen or an entrance way or you VOID their warranty too!

Buyer be ware. If you need advice on Cork, contact:
www.info@icorkfloor.com (USA clients)
www.info@cancork.com (Canadian Clients)

If we don't have the answer, we will find it out for you!
1 Like   April 23, 2013 at 12:42PM
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Lumber Liquidators
Hey eztia, enzyme cleaners are non-toxic and bio degradable. These cleaners can work on stains, vomit, urine, and food. The enzyme cleaner will break down the vomit or urine that may have gotten on the cork floor and it will also do a great job of eliminating the odor. Whenever using any cleaning products on the flooring always test on a sample board that is not installed first, or test on a plank in a location like a closet or near a wall. If the cleaner has a negative effect on the finish do not use it. Typically Enzyme cleaners designed for wood/bamboo/cork floors will not affect the finished surface. Thanks for your inquiry!
1 Like   April 23, 2013 at 12:49PM
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nasmijati
@Cancork and Lumber Liquidators. Thank you for your replies. I was completely ignorant about the many variables of cork flooring. That is what I like about Houzz. People are willing to share their knowledge and not make the person who asked the question feel unintelligent.
1 Like   April 24, 2013 at 9:20AM
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Lumber Liquidators
You're welcome! I like that about Houzz, too :)
0 Likes   April 25, 2013 at 8:45AM
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OnePlan
Hi ! Can you emulate where you Mother is currently living in your Decor - as it's disorientating for a person with Alzheimer's when they move to a new place - as many familiar things around as possible can help them feel more settled. Also, maybe one or two at a time, invite your neighbours to come and say hi , as if your Mother starts to wander and gets a little lost it helps if more people are aware of who she is and how to contact you. Enjoy this precious time ! It's lovely to hear all the old stories from years ago. I wish you all well. Kind regards, Karen at OnePlan
1 Like   April 25, 2013 at 9:11AM
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Gary Presto
Hi Bob, try some nice, warm and vibrant colors for mom. As you probably already experience, older loved ones with this condition can become agitated, i.e., "sundown," in the late-afternoon or evening hours. Nice, inviting hues such as a deep orange, reddish-orange, or similar, can help make your mother feel more comfortable for sleeping or going back to sleep. Also, it might provide her with a point of familiarity to a certain degree, if she at times may get up from resting and wander around her living space. Kudos to you for helping her--I caregiver for my widowed elderly parent, as well. Wishing the best with everything, and take good care of your caregiver self and living surroundings, too!
0 Likes   April 25, 2013 at 4:06PM
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Nancy Walton
I'm sorry, Gary, but having dealt with 3 relatives with dementia, orange is not a good color, or any other bright, vibrant color, due to the fact that those colors are very agitating.. Believe or not, pink is the very best color for keeping people calm. They are even putting various shades of pink in prisons, and it is proving to cut down on the number of violent attacks and uprisings. There is a reason why most nursing homes have a soft pink and green color scheme. Just saying...
2 Likes   April 25, 2013 at 4:30PM
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Nancy Walton
Many people with dementia can become combative, also, and pink can help with this. Sundowning is a phenomenom that really has to with the time of day, more than the surroundings.
0 Likes   April 25, 2013 at 4:33PM
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Gary Presto
Thanks for your input, too, Nancy! Your relatives sounded lucky to have you assisting them. One of mine with Alzheimer's actually disliked the colors pink and green, preferred shades of darker, muted maroon and reddish-orange, as does my mom. Sounds we have had much caregiving experience in common. It's a shame that these cognitive conditions' effects overlay all our unique loved ones' and formal institutional care providers' individual preferences with its equal-handed robbing of their memory and other bodily functions, eventually.
0 Likes   April 25, 2013 at 5:34PM
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Nancy Walton
I'm 65, so am approaching that time in life myself. My mother was in her late 50s when she started having symptoms, but her sister wasn't diagnosed until 87. I hope I'm like my auntie...
0 Likes   April 25, 2013 at 5:37PM
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Nancy Walton
I keep trying to learn new things, so hopefully I can stave it off longer.
1 Like   April 25, 2013 at 5:38PM
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Ed
Nancy, there's so much to learn on Houzz -- it's wonderful. Have you heard of Go ? Google "go game" -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_%28game%29 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_(game)
0 Likes   April 25, 2013 at 5:57PM
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teeooh
Hi. I am really pleased that you are having you mother come yo your house. My mother in law had dementia but not from Alzheimer's. she spent 5 years in a nursing home-for behavioral reasons she could not be home-

I saw many many patients and how they interacted with the environment over that time.

I have no opinions on color or finish - other than asking your mother what she likes. In fact the change could be very jarring to her so I would do what you can to make this new space feel like her current home ( or one she loved before).

I don't think you need to be told about safety - but I did learn some odd things. If you can give her a natural flow for walking. Give her a space to rest and relax that is separate from her bedroom. Make sure she can access the bathroom easily from her sleeping and her day room. Pocket doors for the bathroom might make it easier since you can make them disappear and she won't need to be able to open them.
0 Likes   April 25, 2013 at 6:12PM
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LM Designers
My heart goes out to you. My father had this and it was a real challenge. Best of luck, you are wonderful for helping so much.
0 Likes   April 25, 2013 at 6:30PM
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Robin W
My only suggestion is door alarms that you arm without fail every night.

I've had too many elderly dementia/Alzheimer's patients in my ambulance because they wandered. Including one gentleman who managed to get up at 3am from beside his sleeping wife and wander 8 blocks in below freezing temperatures in a sweater and slippers only.
0 Likes   April 25, 2013 at 6:54PM
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