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 Making the House Work for You 
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Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2007 5:35 pm
Posts: 344
Post Making the House Work for You
My husband of 36 years was diagnosed with LBD in June 2007. Here are some things I have done around the house to make it more user friendly. Please share your ideas with me about what you have done at your house.
The bathroom renovation I did will be in a separate topic soon.

You may be looking at a nursing home eventually for your loved one, but if you are like me, you want that postponed as long as possible. I thought of the money invested to change our house as money I would have given to a nursing home earlier if I did not invest it now. I also viewed it as an opportunity to upgrade and, where possible, to beautify our home to make it eventually more marketable in case we need to sell and move closer to family.
Taking this on as a creative challenge to upgrade and keep John home as long as possible turned taxing renovation experiences into more positive ones. It made me feel more in control of what was happening.
I would much rather invest our money in home improvement than nursing home care. An advantage we had was a main floor that could meet all our needs if necessary.
An obstacle for us when John was diagnosed was the back door entry to our home. There were two steps that were uneven and the storm door was ultra heavy, so that when you came and went, you felt off balance.
After months of thinking about what to do to improve the situation, I was speaking with a contractor about putting up a small deck type of porch with a ramp style exit to the driveway. He suggested a cement ramp and semicircle shaped porch combination that has a slate look. I immediately knew that was the answer. It would be safe, easy to use, and attractive with flowers added on each side.
I ended up drawing the picture of what I wanted and expanding on the original concept. The entry today is prettier than my front entrance and a delight to use as we pack the car to go see grandkids or bring in the groceries.
A problem was turned into a plus! It was money very well spent. The cost was about one-fourth of one month’s nursing home bill in our community. I still need to replace the heavy storm door.


1. Eliminate clutter and create visual order around you. Put things in their place and return them there when you finish with them.
2. Invest in making external and internal doorways senior friendly. Have ramps or cement inclines built where needed.
3. Make sure lighting is good all over the house.
4. Move furniture that blocks traffic areas.
5. Remove area rugs that could slip and cause falls.
6. Get in a borrowed wheelchair yourself and maneuver around your house to see where potential problem areas exist. Modify those areas.
7. Have someone come every other week or once a month to clean your home if you can afford it. No guilt here. You are investing in your health and peace of mind by not demanding that you do every thing there is to do in your house.
8. Think of home improvements as good investments rather than expenses.
9. If you live in a split level or split foyer house or if all bedrooms are on the second floor, move if you can to a one level house.

_________________
Pat Snyder, husband John, dx LBD 2007
Author of [i]Treasures in the Darkness: Extending Early Stage of LBD...[i][/i] [url]http://www.amazon.com/Treasures-Darkness-Extending-Alzheimers-Parkinsons/dp/1466428228/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334092686&sr=8-1[/url]


Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:39 pm
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Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:33 pm
Posts: 3436
Location: Vermont
Post Re: Making the House Work for You
All good ideas Pat. Here's another idea - if there is no walk-in shower, be creative in finding space for one. My dad's powder room had a built-in china closet on an adjacent wall. He had the china cabinet removed, the wall removed, and a small, walk-in shower put in. Even with bars all around his other bathtub/shower, he could not safely lift his legs to get into the bathtub (a constant worry for me when he still lived at home).
And, if your LO is still living alone, make sure they have either a portable phone, or cell phone that is kept with them AT ALL TIMES, including on a night stand next to their bed so if they fall out of bed they can still reach the phone from the floor. (had this situation several times before he was hospitalized and then living in an ALF)
If you have helpers coming in to take care of your LO, make sure they keep a notebook of all important info. and they keep it in a place where you can easily get to it when you get there.

_________________
Lynn, daughter of 89 year old dad dx with possiblity of LBD, CBD, PSP, FTD, ALS, Vascular Dementia, AD, etc., died Nov. 30, 2010 after living in ALF for 18 months.


Wed Oct 06, 2010 1:20 pm
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Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:46 pm
Posts: 3213
Location: WA
Post Re: Making the House Work for You
One of the main reasons we [I] sold our house and bought this house in a retirement community is that all of the houses here are built to be w/c and walker accessible. I did order quite a bit of extra remodeling before moving in but it's well worth it. Our new deck is enclosed and he is safe to sit out there by himself, it is partly covered so we can be outside even if it's raining [which it does a lot of here!].

_________________
Pat [68] married to Derek [84] for 38 years; husband dx PDD/LBD 2005, probably began 2002 or earlier; late stage and in a SNF as of January 2011. Hospitalized 11/2/2013 and discharged to home Hospice. Passed away at home on 11/9/2013.


Wed Oct 06, 2010 1:39 pm
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Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2007 5:35 pm
Posts: 344
Post Re: Making the House Work for You
Lynn, I love the idea of enclosing another spot for a walk in shower---very creative!
Pat, enclosing the deck or screening in a porch for safe and comfortable outside activities is super, too! And of course retirement housing is a good option for many.
Thank you both for adding to my list of tips!!

_________________
Pat Snyder, husband John, dx LBD 2007
Author of [i]Treasures in the Darkness: Extending Early Stage of LBD...[i][/i] [url]http://www.amazon.com/Treasures-Darkness-Extending-Alzheimers-Parkinsons/dp/1466428228/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334092686&sr=8-1[/url]


Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:27 pm
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Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:33 pm
Posts: 3436
Location: Vermont
Post Re: Making the House Work for You
The most amazing thing was that my dad came up with that idea himself, about 3 months before he was hospitalized. I was surprised he didn't talk with me about it first, since ordinarily he would have done that with house projects. He only used it a couple of times because he couldn't figure out the one-handle hardware, which is different from his old 2-handle shower! I felt bad that it barely got used before he had to go to rehab and then the ALF, but I'm enjoying it when I'm at his house. I just wish for his sake he'd done it well before he did so he could have gotten some use out of it. Lynn

_________________
Lynn, daughter of 89 year old dad dx with possiblity of LBD, CBD, PSP, FTD, ALS, Vascular Dementia, AD, etc., died Nov. 30, 2010 after living in ALF for 18 months.


Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:29 pm
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Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2007 5:35 pm
Posts: 344
Post Re: Making the House Work for You
Lynn, that is why I put this tip in. The sooner the bath is retrofitted for LBD, the better. My next post is the detail about how I did our bathroom as soon as possible to create a calmer place for us in our journey through this stage of our lives.
So sorry your dad did not get much enjoyment from his project, but I am proud of him, too.
Pat

_________________
Pat Snyder, husband John, dx LBD 2007
Author of [i]Treasures in the Darkness: Extending Early Stage of LBD...[i][/i] [url]http://www.amazon.com/Treasures-Darkness-Extending-Alzheimers-Parkinsons/dp/1466428228/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334092686&sr=8-1[/url]


Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:45 pm
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Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:33 pm
Posts: 3436
Location: Vermont
Post Re: Making the House Work for You
Thanks, Pat. I was really proud of my dad too. He was also meeting with his carpenter to have a handicapped ramp put in the front of the house, but I knew he was not going to be able to stay by himself in the house much longer, so thank goodness I talked him out of an expensive ramp. (we'd been through several falls, ER trips, etc.) The day after he talked with the carpenter is when I tricked him into going to the ALF "just to get info. for the future", which we did, and that's when he made the decision to move to the ALF himself (also very proud and SO THANKFUL that HE was the one to make that decision)!!!
I was so glad the timing was right on all that or we'd have a handicap ramp going into a totally inaccessible house, and he would have wasted a lot of money doing it. Lynn

_________________
Lynn, daughter of 89 year old dad dx with possiblity of LBD, CBD, PSP, FTD, ALS, Vascular Dementia, AD, etc., died Nov. 30, 2010 after living in ALF for 18 months.


Sat Oct 09, 2010 1:16 pm
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Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:32 am
Posts: 215
Location: Kalispell, MT
Post Re: Making the House Work for You
My solution to the house issue was to build a new one and sell the old one (took a bath there). The new one is partially disabled accessible as that adds cost. Frankly, I think my husband will be in a facility before it’s badly needed, but there were other reasons to build.

As Pat says, this is money you would otherwise be spending for a nursing home, and it increases the value of your property. And as the money drains away in this economy, whatever happens, I will already be in a good (not extravagant) house.

Another possible strategy concerns spending down, if necessary, to qualify for VA benefits. Better to have the $ invested in your house, which is exempt from asset determination.

All doors are 3’ wide and hallways 4’. The only custom feature is the tiled walk-in shower and the tiled bathroom floor, which is not slippery. The toilet area is open enough for a wheelchair to maneuver. Floors are laminate, which is pretty slippery.

Many of the features of Universal Design are not needed, such as kitchen design as he won’t be working in the kitchen.

Gail


Wed Dec 15, 2010 2:16 pm
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Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:33 pm
Posts: 3436
Location: Vermont
Post Re: Making the House Work for You
And, BTW, for those who want to apply for VA Aid & Attendance benefits, you apparently have to spend down below $80,000. Except for the house, and I think 1 vehicle, the VA will not pay A&A until the cash assets are below this amount. I wish I'd known this BEFORE I spent many frustrating hours in meetings, on the phone and filling out a 20-some page VA form. I literally spent well over 100 hours on VA stuff the summer of 2009, only to find out that one simple fact that any VA staff member could have told me. Instead I found it out through this forum! Lynn

_________________
Lynn, daughter of 89 year old dad dx with possiblity of LBD, CBD, PSP, FTD, ALS, Vascular Dementia, AD, etc., died Nov. 30, 2010 after living in ALF for 18 months.


Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:10 pm
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Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:07 pm
Posts: 1039
Location: Minnesota
Post Re: Making the House Work for You
It was clear initially that Coy was going to have trouble with dressers -- with remembering what was in each drawer and with pulling them open and closing them. I bought a stand that held brightly colored plastic bins, usually sold to hold toys in children's rooms. Dark socks went into one bin, light socks in another, undies in another, etc. This was a really good and inexpensive solution. After a few years I decided to take a more permanent, elegant approach.

I remodeled a small "vanity" area (which was supposed to be for applying makeup, etc. but was actually a repository of clutter) into an open closet with pull-out wire basket drawers and room for 4 laundry baskets. I had California Closets design it to my specs, make it, and install it. They wanted to provide pull-out cloth bag drawers for the laundry. No thank you. Give me shelves to put my baskets on. I've been doing laundry longer than the designer has been alive and I knew what I wanted. :P I had one section with a door, for incontinent supplies, but left the rest open so Coy can easily see what is where. Yes, I agreed it would be more attractive with full length doors closing the closet off, but it was more convenient this way. Let the next owners add doors if they want them. CC had suggestions but were very willing to do it my way. All their installations are custom.

This opened up some floor space in the bedroom and made it a more relaxing, serene room. It replaced an eyesore with an attractive convenient storage area. Of course I wish I'd done it earlier, but I had no idea how long Coy would be able to be at home. The colorful toy storage unit was a good, fast, inexpensive solution until I was ready to take a more permanent approach.

_________________
Jeanne, 68 cared for husband Coy, 86. RBD for 30+ years; LDB since 2003, Coy at home, in early stage, until death in 2012


Thu Jan 20, 2011 1:53 pm
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Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2007 5:35 pm
Posts: 344
Post Re: Making the House Work for You
Jeanne, you are my kind of gal!! Great ideas to make daily life easier and more convenient! I love it!
John has the same issue with remembering what is in what drawer and he almost never closes one completely. Where did you find the toy bin stand? Was it the type that holds them at a slant so you can see everything inside each bin?

Lynn, that is good info about VA benefits. Are they available to any veteran once you have less that $80K in the bank?

_________________
Pat Snyder, husband John, dx LBD 2007
Author of [i]Treasures in the Darkness: Extending Early Stage of LBD...[i][/i] [url]http://www.amazon.com/Treasures-Darkness-Extending-Alzheimers-Parkinsons/dp/1466428228/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334092686&sr=8-1[/url]


Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:27 pm
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Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:07 pm
Posts: 1039
Location: Minnesota
Post Re: Making the House Work for You
Yes Pat, they are held at a slant. You can see a picture on the Target site. Search for Kids Toy Organizer. I'm sure that Target is not the only store that carries this type of product. And I certainly do wish we'd had a couple for the boys' rooms many years ago, for tinker toys and legos and matchbox cars and the million-piece toys little boys seem to love.

_________________
Jeanne, 68 cared for husband Coy, 86. RBD for 30+ years; LDB since 2003, Coy at home, in early stage, until death in 2012


Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:46 pm
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Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:33 pm
Posts: 3436
Location: Vermont
Post Re: Making the House Work for You
Hi Pat - I'm no expert on VA benefits, so I'd suggest you find a local person who works for the VA and ask them. I do remember several questions about whether or not he was a war era veteran, and the answer was yes, WW2 & Korea. I think war era vets get more benefits, but not sure on this. There is a good link somewhere in this forum that has very helpful info. about the VA. If I can find it I'll make a post and put the link there. You may want to do a search in case I don't get to it soon. Lynn

_________________
Lynn, daughter of 89 year old dad dx with possiblity of LBD, CBD, PSP, FTD, ALS, Vascular Dementia, AD, etc., died Nov. 30, 2010 after living in ALF for 18 months.


Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:05 pm
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Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:18 am
Posts: 276
Location: Washington State
Post Re: Making the House Work for You
On VA Benefits: I have successfully applied (myself) for Aid and Attendance benefits for my Mom (the WW2 Vet) following the instructions at this website: www.veteranaid.org. They have a discussion forum that has been going for years and you can search for many, many answers. I admit that the application process is daunting and the VA holds me accountable for the money she receives as I'm the fiduciary, but they send her a check every month for more than her social security income and it will extend her ability to stay off medicaid at the ALF. There is a lot of inaccurate information out there about this benefit, but I've been following the nonprofit veteranaid website daily for about a year now and the administrator is aces in my opinion. Good luck to you.

_________________
Annie, daughter of brave Marie, dx 2007 and in ALF


Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:08 pm
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Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2007 5:35 pm
Posts: 344
Post Re: Making the House Work for You
Annie and Lynn, thanks! I will try to follow up on that.

Jeanne, I think my daughter has one of those for grandson#1 and it does make sense for making things easy to find for the LBD patient. Great idea!

_________________
Pat Snyder, husband John, dx LBD 2007
Author of [i]Treasures in the Darkness: Extending Early Stage of LBD...[i][/i] [url]http://www.amazon.com/Treasures-Darkness-Extending-Alzheimers-Parkinsons/dp/1466428228/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334092686&sr=8-1[/url]


Fri Jan 21, 2011 12:56 am
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