As you settle in to the care routine you’ll likely find you’re spending a lot more time at home. Whether your home, your loved one’s home or an assisted living place, you’ll want to make the dwelling as comfortable, familiar and welcoming as possible for the person you are caring for.
Rather than updating the entire place (which may take up time and money you don’t have), start small. Pick a room your loved one spends the most time in—the living room, the bedroom, the kitchen, the den or even a back porch enclosure. Ask them about their favorite pictures, games, flowers, candles, colors, hunting mementos, books—anything to better understand what makes them happy; what feels like home.
Try to hit all of the senses with your design—visual, audio, olfactory, sensory and savory. The room should reflect their personality, not simply design principles. Here’s a list to get started with:
Lighting (strive for natural lighting where possible—declutter windows and open up blinds or curtains during the day)
Night lamps, adjustable reading lamps and/or wall sconces
Paint (let them choose the color!)
Pops of color throughout the room
Floor rug (a cheery rug is like a burst of sunshine in a low-key room!)
Furniture arrangement (how can you maximize space and light?)
Reading chair (a corner placement, preferably by a window is optimal)
TV at optimum spacing and height
Candles or room fragrances
Pictures, pictures, pictures!
Music (Sirius XM, Pandora, Spotify, even old school CD’s or records!)
Mints, Jolly Ranchers or other small refreshment they like (if safe to do so)
Fresh flowers on the nightstand or table (or even fake ones)
Greenery (real plants or fake ones—Target has a nice selection of small table plants)
Redesigning a room can be fun and rewarding for all parties involved. When we moved my mother in to the back, window-filled bedroom of my sister and brother-and-law’s house, we set everything up to her liking. The pillows and blankets she cherished; pictures of high school friends; her extensive DVD collection; CD towers and records; the framed sunset photos she had taken in Hawaii in 1980; the Precious Moments collection she had spent a lifetime building. We set up a Sirius XM radio to play the classic rock music she listened to most waking hours of the day, and a computer desk in the corner where she could access email, internet and YouTube (to watch more classic rock videos). We painted the walls a light blue, in line with her favorite color, and pulled up the window shades to allow for maximum sunlight every day of the week.
Keep in mind—your loved one needn’t be physically moving into a new room or dwelling to start the transformation. And when upgrading the room, you have the opportunity to add in safety updates where possible. We cover this in depth in our post on operationalizing your home.