3 Home Safety Tips for People with Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimers, in-home care, senior care

3 Home Safety Tips for People with Alzheimer’s Disease

Home safety of elderly with Alzheimers requires planing. When is the last time you have ‘safety-proofed’ a house. So here’s a refresher. Prevent, Adapt, and Minimize are the three home safety tips. For keeping a senior with Alzheimers safe at home.

  1. Think prevention. It is very difficult to predict what a senior with Alzheimers might do. Just because something has not yet occurred does not mean it should not be cause for concern. Even with the best-laid plans, accidents can happen. Therefore, checking the safety of your home will help you take control of some of the potential problems that create hazardous situations.
  2. Adapt the environment. It is easier to change the environment than to change behaviours. While some Alzheimers behaviours can be managed many cannot. Environmental changes to decrease hazards and reduce behavioural and functional changes are easy fixes.
  3. Minimize danger. By minimizing danger, you can maximize independence. A safe environment is a less restrictive environment. Where a person with Alzheimers experiences increased mobility and  sense of security.

General Safety Concerns Found Throughout the Home can be managed by:

  • Display emergency numbers and your home address near all telephones. If you can purchase a phone specifically designed for seniors/disabled. Phones with oversized keys and autodial that use a contact’s picture are the easiest. Facial recognition is the simplest way for the senior to dial. You can find examples of phones, as well as other assistive devices here: devices
  • Use an answering machine when you cannot answer phone calls. Set it to turn on after the fewest number of rings possible. A person with Alzheimers is often unable to take messages and can become a victim of phone exploitation. Turn ringers on low to avoid distraction and confusion. Put all portable, cell phones, and similar equipment in a safe place so they will not be lost.
  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in the kitchen and in all sleeping areas. Frequently check that the devices are functioning. 
  • Install secure locks on all outside doors and windows. 
  • Hide a spare house key outside in case the person with Alzheimer’s locks you out of the house.

Minimize tripping hazards:

  • Limit the use of extension cords by placing lamps and appliances close to electrical outlets. Tack extension cords to the baseboards of a room to avoid tripping.
  • Avoid clutter, which can create confusion and danger. Recycle newspapers and magazines regularly.
  • Remove tripping hazards. Keep floors and other surfaces clutter-free. Remove magazine racks, coffee tables and floor lamps to keep all areas where people walk free of furniture. Where possible, tack or use double sided tape to tape down area rugs to avoid tripping. 
  • Check all rooms for adequate lighting and place light switches at the top and the bottom of stairs. 
  • Cover unused electrical outlets with childproof plugs. 
  • Place red tape around floor vents, radiators, and other heating devices to deter the person with Alzheimers from standing on or touching them when hot.
  • Place markers on all glass doors so that a Senior can easily recognize the obstruction and avoid walking into the glass door.
  • Stairways should have at least one handrail that extends beyond the first and last steps. If possible, steps should be carpeted or have safety grip strips.
  • Put a gate across the stairs if the person has balance problems. 

 

Wondering if your family member needs help? The following article will help you determine if you need in-home senior care 10-early-warning-signs-your-parents-need-in-home care.

Limit accidents:

  • Keep all medications (prescription and over-the-counter) locked. Each bottle of prescription medicine should be clearly labeled with the person’s name, name of the drug, drug strength, dosage frequency, and expiration date. Child- resistant caps should be used. Keep a list of medications easily accessible in the event of an unexpected trip to the doctor or hospital.
  • Keep all alcohol in a locked cabinet out of reach of the person with Alzheimers. Drinking alcohol can increase confusion. 
  • If smoking is permitted, monitor the person with Alzheimers while they are smoking. Remove matches, lighters, ashtrays, cigarettes, and other means of smoking from view. This reduces fire hazards, and with these reminders out of sight, the person may forget the desire to smoke. 
  • Keep plastic bags out of reach. A person with Alzheimers can choke or suffocate. 

 

Remove Hazards:

  • Avoid the use of flammable and volatile compounds near gas appliances. Do not store these materials in an area where a gas pilot light is used. 
  • Remove all guns and other weapons from the home and lock them up. Install safety locks on guns or remove ammunition and firing pins. 
  • Lock all power tools and machinery in the garage, workroom, or basement. 
  • Keep fish tanks out of reach. The combination of glass, water, electrical pumps, and potentially poisonous aquatic life could be harmful to a curious person with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Remove all poisonous plants from the home. Check with local nurseries or contact the Ontario Poison Control centre (1 800 268 9017) for a list of poisonous plants. 
  • Make sure all computer equipment and accessories, including electrical cords, are kept out of the way. If valuable documents or materials are stored on a home computer, protect the files with passwords and backup the files. Password protect access to the Internet, and restrict the amount of online time without supervision. Consider monitoring computer use by the person with Alzheimer’s, and install software that screens for objectionable or offensive material on the Internet. 

I found the above list helpful in preventing accidents and keeping my parents’ comfortable. I also added two additional items to the list. 

To Avoid falls:

  • I rearranged their kitchen appliances including, pots and pans, from being stored under the counters to a new higher location. I did this to prevent my parents from bending and reaching to access their kitchen tools. With the goal of avoiding dizziness and balance issues when standing back up.

To Manage Behavioural Swings:

  • Created a weekly schedule of activities. For example. Monday – we change the sheets, Tuesday is bath day, Wednesday is laundry day, etc. This way my Mom was less agitated and was better able to follow along and understand why certain things were taking place. I found that the schedule (drawn on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper) was effective in communicating with Mom. Especially when she insisted that ‘yesterday’ was bath day. But remember that you need to go with the flow. So if Mom is agitated about taking her bath don’t force the issue. Irrespective of today being bath day!

For ideas on how to create a daily schedule click here: Creating a Daily Plan

 

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