If your loved one suffers from Alzheimer's, the risk of accidents increases no matter where they are. While you may not be able to make public places safer for them, you can make safety modifications to your own home or theirs so that the risk of an accident is minimized. The National Institute on Aging provides specific ways to prevent falls, mishaps, and confusion for every single room of the house. Some of these steps might take a while, so here are some initial ways to immediately improve the overall safety of the environment your loved one lives in.
Visible Safety Concerns
Start out by going from room to room and making a list of safety concerns that you can see upon entering. After you've made your list, figure out ways to remove the items or safety hazards from the room. For items that can't be removed, you'll need to plan to hide, replace, or adjust them so that they can safely remain in the room. Here are suggestions on what you might look for:
- Items they can trip over or that are difficult to see like cords, rugs, carpeting, or anything not stationary.
- Anything they can bump into like the end of a table or a chair.
- Poisonous or flammable substances. This can include plants, medicines, or anything toxic that can be ingested.
- Anything that might be hot or pose fire dangers like heaters, radiators, stoves/ovens, toasters, microwaves, and other kitchen appliances.
- Easily accessible dangers like stairs, locks, windows, basements, attics, swimming areas, and doors leading outside.
- Sharp items like razors, knives, tools, needles, and glass. Also remove items that can be broken like pictures, vases, and mirrors.
In some ways, you will notice what you are doing is really no different than if you were baby proofing your home.
Invisible Safety Concerns
When you think about safety for those with Alzheimer's, think about those dangers and safety risks that aren't obvious or visible. Consider how you can help with their daily routine:
- Administer medications so there is no confusion about whether they have been taken or not.
- Assist in activities like shaving, cooking, and bathing. These are a few of the more higher risk activities.
- Make sure that you or another family member always accompanies your loved one on doctor appointments, shopping trips, and to entertainment events.
- Keep your house well lit inside and outside at all times. Use security and motion activated lights.
- Install a door alarm to alert you when they have left their bedroom or house.
- Keep their full name, address, and all emergency numbers permanently written on all their items. A medical bracelet or necklace with this information is ideal.
If you have ever had to baby proof a home for a child, you are going to find a lot of these tasks familiar. The only difference with proofing a house for an adult with Alzheimer's is that this is an individual who may not necessarily think he or she needs help shaving, cooking, or taking medication on a daily basis.
In addition to everything listed above, you may also need to think about hiring an in-home nurse to help care for your loved one so you can take a break to do things for yourself as well. Contact a company like Alternative Nursing Services for more information.