Art of Aging: Alzheimer's home prep

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Thursday, March 30, 2017
Art of Aging: Alzheimer's home prep
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Art of Aging: Alzheimer's home prep. Tamala Edwards reports during Action News at 12 p.m. on March 30.

Meet a woman on a mission to make homes safer, and more comfortable for loved ones with a memory-stealing disease.

Theresa Clement is a licensed contractor who hosts classes like the one in the video above for our FYI Philly team, designed to empower women with power tools

But when her father was stricken with Alzheimer's, she took what she knew and became a certified aging in place specialist along with the DIY Expert MyFixitUpLife.

Theresa created a program to help caregivers create a safe space.

Lillian Cartledge's husband, Jim, suffers from Alzheimer's. With his disease progressing, she wants to move to a continuing care retirement home.

She said, "It took weeks and sometimes months to talk out loud with him. Now he knows that we are going to be leaving the house."

And Lillian is working with Theresa to make the transition easier.

"I'm going to try to help them recreate those places in their home that are special, that they use every day, and those memories that they have, and those objects that are really important," said Theresa.

She says it's important to avoid sensory overload with seemingly simple thinks like color.

"Black can feel like the abyss and it can feel like it's just never ending. It's kind of that sensory thing, it's a neurological thing and it can be very scary," said Theresa.

Lighting,"This is something that you can put along the wall to show where the bathroom is," she said.

And patterns she said, "Sometimes fabrics like this can look 3D."

She posts tips on her website, MyFixitUpLife.

For Lillian Cartledge, the ultimate goal is simple.

Lillian says, "Making sure he's comfortable and that I can still take care of him and we can be together for a period of time."

And Theresa urges all family members to enjoy the time you have and be willing to walk down memory lane.

She says, "You don't have to keep pulling them back into today's land because you know what, today might not be awesome. But you know 40 years ago it was spectacular. So go there and have fun!"

For more stories about seniors, visit our Art of Aging section.