Elizz Content Contributor
Date: May 29, 2016
Practical Caregiver Tips on Changing Your Living Space
Take a deep breath. Modifying a home is a big change for caregivers and care recipients, which requires some letting go and creative planning.
The goal of the living space is comfort and independence for the care recipient.
The living space will evolve with the needs of the individual and will likely need to be used for many new purposes. It is not a bedroom and it is not the living room - it is a new and very important space; a living room bedroom combo.
Ideas for combining the bedroom and the living room
The goal of the living space is comfort and independence for the care recipient, who should be very involved in creating this space. When you need to convert a living room to a bedroom, keep the person's abilities in mind (think about both their current and future needs) and find solutions that keep the individual as independent as possible.
Here are some caregiver tips on how to make a living room into a bedroom to meet both of your needs.
- Include the person in the process. Ask them to help decide what items should be moved in or out of the new room. Consider removing furniture that falls over easily or cannot support the person's weight, and remove throw rugs or magazine racks that may cause trips and falls.
- Surround the person in your care with meaningful items and photos, and involve him or her in choosing them.
- Have chairs for visitors to sit comfortably.
- Comfortable blankets and pillows will make a hospital bed feel more personal.
- When arranging furniture to put a bed in the living room, consider the space that will be needed to transfer the person in and out of bed. Also consider the space needed for assistive devices like wheelchairs, commodes, and lifts, as well as the space needed to provide personal care and treatments. Keep the space as open and clutter-free as possible.
- Include a divider or alternate means of creating privacy the person may need for personal care and treatments. Make the living room bedroom combo private, but also welcoming and inclusive.
- Use labeled containers to keep medical supplies and equipment organized and easily accessible, but also tucked away when not in use to ensure a more comfortable, “normal” space to enjoy.
- If the person loves to listen to the radio or watch TV, ensure these are close by and can be controlled on his or her own for as long as possible.
- Bring the person's interests into the space as much as possible. Does he or she love to read, scrapbook, look through magazines, knit, or do puzzles? Consider an over the bed table or tray for these activities, and have adequate lighting that the individual can turn on and off.
- Consider how the individual is going to communicate with caregivers in the home, such as a baby monitor, bell to ring, or pad of paper to communicate with.
- The care recipient will need many important items on a regular basis, like puffers, a glass of water, medications, Kleenex, a favourite book, a telephone, laptop or tablet, and lip balm. Decide how to keep these items accessible and organized. Options may include side tables, an over the bed table, baskets, or bags.
- As difficult as it may be to think about, further changes may be necessary when the living room and bedroom are together since you will need to plan for changing needs and equipment that may be needed in the future. Will the living room and bedroom combo allow caregivers and professional staff to provide personal care in and around the bed as needs change? Will grab bars and poles make transferring easier? How far is the bathroom from the bed?
- Have a book for family and friends to write in and share stories while visiting. Talking may be tiring for the individual.
- Create a “safe zone” for the person who has Alzheimer's or dementia. Use child proofing plugs on outlets, remove medications (including over the counter ones), tools, appliances, and chemicals, and secure windows and doors to help curb wandering. See also our Elizz article on Bedroom Safety Tips.
- Try to find special moments to share together in this new space. For example, having a family dinner on TV trays around the bed where the dining room table used to be.
Visit our Elizz caregiving services page to learn more about available support for caregivers as well as various care services for the people in your care.