If your loved one received an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis and is still living in their own home, or your home, measures need to be taken to ensure their safety. Alzheimer’s disease can make activities of daily living challenging, but certain modifications can help make things easier and safer for both you and your loved one.
Alzheimer’s Disease Safety Tips for the Home
Experts recommend that when caring for Alzheimer’s patients, the sooner you make adjustments to their environment, the better. As Alzheimer’s progresses, your loved one’s abilities will change which can affect safety. Depending on the stage of the disease, the changes the patient may experience can impair judgment, behavior, and sense of time and place.
Some steps you can take to ensure the home is safe for your loved one with Alzheimer’s include:
1) Home Assessment: Identify the areas that could cause the most harm to your loved one and evaluate potential safety risks. Throw rugs or extension cords can cause an unsteady senior to trip and fall. Perhaps the bathroom could use some grab bars or non-skid mats. As seniors age, their eyesight can be affected and this is usually worse for those with Alzheimer’s disease. Install extra lighting in the hallways and stairways and replace light bulbs often. Make sure rooms are easy to navigate, remove dangerous or sharp items from the kitchen. The kitchen can be a dangerous fire hazard, so make certain your loved one is still able to use appliances correctly.
2) Prepare for Emergencies: Keep emergency numbers for police, fire, and poison control easily accessible in case of emergency. Have a phone readily available for emergency calls; keep a cordless phone or cell phone with your loved one at all times. Make sure all smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors in the home are in working order.
3) Home Security or Medical Alert System: Consider installing a security or medical alert system that will provide 24 hour emergency service for your loved one. Many security system providers specialize in safety features for seniors, such as door and window alerts to notify when an Alzheimer’s patient may be wandering. Newer systems can even offer GPS tracking bracelets.
4) Establish a Routine: A supportive routine in which many of your loved one’s activities occur earlier in the day can help alleviate nightly agitation and wandering. Focus on what your loved one still can do to support their remaining abilities.