family in home

 

When caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s disease at home, safety is an important concern. People living with Alzheimer’s can remain in their homes safely for a longer period of time if safety issues are addressed. Safety issues evolve as the disease progresses, so be sure to reevaluate safety periodically.

Tips for Home Safety

Accommodate for Visual Changes

  • Use contrasting colors on walls, trim and floors to help the person anticipate staircases and room entrances. This technique is also effective in the bathroom, where a white toilet and sink may be hard to see against a white floor and wall
  • Changes in levels of light can be disorienting. Try to maintain consistency in lighting the home and keep it well-lit
  • Add extra lighting in entries, areas between rooms, stairways and bathrooms
  • Diffuse glare by removing mirrors and glass-top furniture
  • Cover windows with blinds, shades, or sheer draperies as needed to control and diffuse the light
  • Use night lights

Avoid Injury during Daily Activities

  • Lower the temperature of tap water and monitor food temperatures if possible, to prevent the person from accidentally getting burned
  • Install walk-in showers, grab bars and non-skid decals on slippery surfaces
  • Provide the appropriate level of support to the person when taking prescription and over-the-counter medications

Beware of Hazardous Objects and Substances

  • Remove guns and ammunition from the home. Until guns and ammunition can be removed safely, lock them in a spot where the person with Alzheimer’s cannot access them. Never store weapons loaded.
  • Limit the use of mixers, grills, knives, and lawnmowers
  • Lock up hazardous materials that could be ingested
  • Supervise smoking and alcohol consumption, and limit or eliminate their use when possible
  • Move items that might cause a person to trip, such as unsecured throw rugs, floor lamps and coffee tables to create unrestricted areas for movement
  • Clean out the refrigerator regularly, and discard expired food

Prepare for Emergencies

  • Keep a list of emergency phone numbers and addresses by every phone, as well as a list of all prescriptions and dosages
  • Regularly check fire extinguishers and smoke alarms
  • Enroll the individual and caregivers in the Medic Alert + Safe Return program prior to any wandering incident. This helps protect the person with dementia, as well as ensuring that he or she will get needed care if something happens to a caregiver
  • Consider using Comfort Zone to monitor the person’s whereabouts. Caregivers or other family or friends can receive computerized alerts when the person with Alzheimer’s wanders out of a pre-set range, or can be checked in on throughout the day
  • As the disease progresses into the middle and late stages, take these steps to make dangerous places less accessible:
    • Lock or disguise hazardous areas
    • Install door locks out of sight, but only keep locked in this way when someone is home to help in case of an emergency
    • Use safety devices, such as childproof locks and door knobs, or hide door knobs with a cloth or painted mural