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Your Parent's Bedroom

As your parent's health needs increase, the bedroom will become the center of Mom or Dad's universe. Just as you decorated the nursery with tender loving care, you should do the same with your dad's bedroom. However, you'll need to make sure that your dad doesn't become isolated and spend all of his time in the bedroom. Whenever physically possible, he needs to be out of bed and encouraged to be up and about. Make sure he gets dressed for the day and doesn't stay in bed clothes. A friend of mine had been a pharmacist who wore a suit every day to work. Even when he retired, he put on his suit. When he came down with Alzheimer's, his wife helped him put his suit on every day to give him a sense of respect and purpose.

Here are some bedroom decorating tips to make life easier for your mom or dad:

  • If it's difficult for your dad to get in and out of bed, get a hospital bed. Medicare will usually cover this cost but be sure to check ahead of time. It will also be much easier for you to provide care to your dad if, he is bedridden.
  • If you can use a room that has a window, great. But your first priority is setting up a room near the bathroom. If this cannot be accomplished, then you'll need to get a portable commode. This, too, is often covered by Medicare.
  • You can also rent healthcare equipment such as a table that swings across the bed for meals and other activities, a trapeze to help with heavy lifting, and a wheelchair.
  • Set up a little visiting area with chairs and a small table so that family and friends can come to visit. It should also be an area where your mom can sit when she's able to get out of bed.
  • Have a table next to the bed, so that your dad can easily reach for his glasses, his bottle of water, the telephone, the remote control for the television, and anything else that he frequently uses. But try not to clutter the table.
  • Be sure to have a television and radio in the room that Mom can control.
  • If your dad suffers from dementia, watch how he responds to wallpaper and pictures. If either seems to aggravate or confuse him (he tries to pick the flowers off flowered wallpaper or constantly pushes a circle thinking it will open something), replace it with soothing colors and quiet designs.
  • Give your mom the security of knowing that she can contact you while you're in another room in the house by using a room monitor (baby monitor) so she can call you without yelling. You might want to consider getting her a personal alert alarm.
  • Get an egg-crate mattress pad for the bed to help prevent bed sores. It runs about $20 and you can get it at stores like K-mart, Wal-Mart, and Target. In fact, if your dad is coming from the hospital to live with you, chances are the hospital will give you one. But don't think the egg-crate pad will do the whole trick. You must also frequently reposition Dad (every few hours) to prevent bed sores.
  • If your mom isn't giving medicines to herself, keep all the prescription bottles and medical supplies out of her sight. No one likes to be constantly reminded that she's "sick." Don't make the bedroom into a "sick room."
  • Have a few plants and fresh flowers adorning the room. If your parent likes a chirping bird or singing canary and it doesn't pose a health hazard, take off to the pet shop. If you aren't bird people, there are always goldfish.
  • Be sure to place a large clock and calendar in the room because it's very easy to get disoriented when you spend so much time in one room. If Dad has dementia, it's also helpful to have a magic marker board where you can write down things like what Dad has had for lunch, or what time you're coming back.

Whatever you do, keep the room clean with fresh bedding. We all know how good it feels to crawl between nice, clean sheets. That's one feeling that never fades away.

More on: Aging Parents


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Caring for Aging Parents © 2001 by Linda Colvin Rhodes, Ed.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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