Alzheimer’s disease affects about 5.4 million Americans, about 5.2 million of which are 65 and older. It can be your grandparent, your cousin, your sibling, or even your parent who faces the diagnosis. Eventually, those with Alzheimer’s require round-the-clock care, and for many families, that means taking the loved one into their own home. If you are someone who plans to care for a person with Alzheimer’s in your home, there are things you should do in order to keep the loved one safe. Here are some basic tips to get you started.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s “causes a number of changes in the brain and body that may affect safety.” It impairs judgment, interferes with balance, causes confusion, and negatively affects the five senses. For this reason, caregivers need to evaluate the home environment in order to determine what changes should be made to ensure the loved one’s safety. Dr. Mike Chua presents some safety tips for your consideration.
Items to Add to Your Home
If you have someone with Alzheimer’s who is going to live with you, the National Institute on Aging suggests you put child-proof plugs on any electric outlets that are not being used. Install child safety latches on cabinets. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be placed in the kitchen and in each bedroom. Purchase a baby gate to protect your loved one from falling down the stairs.
The bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in the home. Install handrails in the shower and bathtub. Place non-skid rugs on the floor. Consider installing a raised toilet seat if your loved one has mobility issues. If you have the money to spend, think about purchasing a sit-down shower or at least a portable shower seat to prevent falls.
Keep in mind that if you spend a lot of money making accessibility alterations to your home, you should take before and after pictures. These changes could boost the value of your home, so it’s important to document anything you’ve renovated.
People with Alzheimer’s experience difficulties with movement and vision. They may fall over furniture or bump into things. For this reason, it’s important to keep your home clutter-free. You may need to get rid of your coffee table or some of your floor lamps. If your house is packed with furniture, consider putting some in storage or having a yard sale. Purchase night lights and place them throughout the home. That way, if your loved one needs to navigate through the rooms when it’s dark, he or she will avoid tripping over objects and furniture in the way.
Medication and Poisonous Liquids
Keep all medication in a child-proof cabinet. You don’t want your loved one taking medicine without your supervision. If they have access to the medicine, they make take pills that are prescribed for another person in the home. They may even overdose on pills. Any cleaning liquids or detergents should also be kept far from your loved one’s reach. If ingested, these poisons can severely injure or kill your loved one.
Emergency Phone Numbers
Post emergency phone numbers in a readily accessible place. That way if there is an emergency, you can quickly call the police, fire department, or poison control center. Doors that lead to the outside should have double locks. Place extra locks above or below eye level. People with Alzheimer’s will often overlook the extra locks when trying to leave the house.When you make the decision to care for your loved one with Alzheimer’s in your home, it’s important to evaluate any potential dangers in the house. People with Alzheimer’s suffer from a variety of impairments. They struggle with balance, judgment, and their senses. It’s easy for them to get lost if they leave the house unattended. Protect your loved one by making the necessary changes to your home. It’s one of the best ways to ensure your loved one’s safety and wellbeing.