Mar 12, 2018 by Stephanie Howe - Owner, Comfort Keepers
Elderproofing 101: Safety for Dementia and Alzheimer's Patients
When a loved one is first diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, it's easy to get overwhelmed. You probably have a lot of questions. You may wonder how you can keep your loved one safe as their cognitive decline progresses. Whether they're living with you or in their own home, Alzheimer's and dementia patients have some unique safety needs. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help your loved one stay safe at home. Here are 6 steps to making a home safe for someone with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, also known as elder proofing.
Dementia is a progressive brain disease. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia. The World Health Organization estimates that around 50 million people have Alzheimer's or dementia worldwide. Dementia and Alzheimer's are commonly diagnosed in adults in their mid-60s or older. Symptoms of the disease include memory loss, impaired judgment, personality changes, problems learning new things, confusion, and wandering. In order to keep your loved one safe, you'll need to make some changes to their home to deal with these symptoms.
According to the journal Age and Aging, people with Alzheimer's are three times more likely to fracture a hip than those with no form of dementia. One reason for this finding is that dementia can cause problems with balance, perception, and memory of furniture locations. Look around your loved one's home for obstacles they could potentially trip over. Remove unnecessary furniture and keep living areas free of clutter. Slippery surfaces, such as bathroom tile, can be the source of falls. Install non-skid strips or mats over tile. Make sure stairways have railings. If your loved one is unable to maneuver stairs on their own, you may want to place a gate in front of the stairs.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, six out of ten people with dementia are likely to wander. Wandering can be dangerous for dementia patients. Here are some ways to decrease wandering:
Cleaning products, weapons, tools, and medication are just a few of the items you should keep away from your loved one with dementia. If possible, remove these items from the home. For items that can't be removed, use child-proof cabinet locks. Consider keeping a lock on garage or basement doors, where potentially dangerous items may be stored.
Adequate lighting can help your loved one be safer in the home. Examine lighting throughout the house, replacing light bulbs where needed. If necessary, add lamps to dark corners, making sure cords are kept out of the way. Keeping nightlights on in bathrooms and bedrooms can help reduce your loved one's confusion when he or she wakes during the night.
A personal emergency response system is a communication device that your loved one wears as a necklace or bracelet. If an emergency situation occurs, such as your loved one falling or becoming lost, he or she can press a button, and help is on the way. This type of communication device works best for those in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
Taking care of a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer's can be challenging. Follow these simple steps to keep your loved one safer in his or her own home. If you have any questions about how Comfort Keepers can help you care for your loved one with dementia, don't hesitate to contact us today at (609) 778-1778.