Is your house feeling more like a hospital than a home? Maybe it's the medical equipment everywhere. Pill containers covering counters and tabletops. Medical notes and directions all over the refrigerator, where kids' drawings and pretty postcards used to be front and center. A clinical atmosphere is a common side effect of family caregiving -- but there are ways to reclaim the homey feel.
Consider these simple ideas that offer a big payoff with less stress:
1. Paint the bottom half of the wall a dark color to hide scuffs.
If moving around furniture, walkers, and other items is causing scuff and scrape marks on your walls, try adding a stick-on border at chair-rail height to visually divide the room. Then paint the bottom portion below the border a color that masks the marks, while leaving the top half of the walls light and bright.
2. Include an easy chair or recliner in the bedroom.
Both you and your loved one can use it, and it makes the room feel less clinical and more cozy.
3. Hide the commode.
Nothing makes a home feel more hospital-like than lots of medical equipment strewn about -- especially a portable commode at the bedside. Instead, try these alternatives: If you have a large closet, clear it out for a makeshift bathroom, a more private option that helps your loved one feel less like he or she is toileting in the middle of the room. Or place the potty behind a stand-alone screen in a corner of the room. If you're a seamstress (or know one), try stitching up a "potty cozy" -- a pretty cover to put over the commode when it's not in use and that's a step up from a blanket. (Make sure it's made of washable fabric, and clean it often.)
4. Tape instructions about medications inside the cabinet door where you store them.
This is a better spot than leaving directions outside the bathroom, so that you have to look at them all day long. Do the same thing with appointment reminder cards and notes from aides or other caregivers. Avoid the refrigerator door; keep cheerier images there.
5. Use wicker baskets to corral medications, cups, paperwork, and other "caregiving stuff."
You can use such baskets on countertops or the tops of dressers; that's a big improvement from letting items slide about uncontained. Not only does this method look neater and warmer, but you can easily transfer the baskets from room to room as needed.
6. Dress up windows in a room being used as a bedroom.
If the room previously didn't have any window dressings, spruce them up. Hang inexpensive curtains on a spring-loaded suspension rod or a shower-curtain rod -- no screwdrivers necessary! Consider spending a little more for light-blocking curtains if trouble sleeping is an issue.
7. Use rope lights to guide the way to the bathroom.
This technique introduces nighttime safety while providing a warm, decorative glow.