To Keep Those with Alzheimer’s Safe, Evaluate Your Environment
Industry Perspective If you are a family facing Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, safety at home is likely an important aspect of your overall care management plan.
According to recent studies,an estimated 70 percent of Americans living with Alzheimer’s are doing so at home and it is critical to take proactive steps to keep them safe in their environment.
“As the person with dementia travels through the different stages of the disease, their needs and abilities will change, including their ability to stay safe,” said Beth Kallmyer, vice president, constituent services, Alzheimer’s Association. “Friends, family members and caregivers can help by thinking ahead about potential risks and taking proactive steps to protect the person with the disease.”
A person with dementia can be at risk in certain areas of the home or outdoors. Common appliances and tools, especially those that have sharp edges or changing temperatures, can pose harm if used inappropriately. Be aware that as the disease progresses, a person with dementia will need supervision while using these devices.
"When wandering, a person with Alzheimer's may not remember his or her name or address and can become disoriented, even in familiar places."
A frequent symptom of dementia is trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, making it easier for the person with the disease to fall or trip. Remove rugs and place loose objects on shelves to eliminate them as a potential hazard.
You may have many types of medication, especially for the person with dementia, accessible in your home. Taken on the wrong schedule or in the incorrect amount, any drug can cause a medical issue. Keep track of dosages and daily administration with a pill organizer (available at drugstores). A designated family member and friend can help by calling the person with dementia to remind them about daily medication.
Lost and wandering
As many as six in 10 people with dementia will wander — a safety issue that is of particular concern during the cold winter months. This can occur during any stage of the disease. Take simple steps around the home to help prevent wandering, especially during the night, by locking doors and installing alarms.
When wandering, a person with Alzheimer's may not remember his or her name or address and can become disoriented, even in familiar places. Families who are unsure where to start should visit the Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s NavigatorTM, an online tool that asks a series of questions in order to deliver a customized step-by-step action plan. Navigator offers specific action steps to help keep those with the disease safe.