Alzheimer’s and other dementias are terribly difficult diseases for individuals and families alike. Problems with recognizing family members, a decreasing ability to perform daily tasks, and pronounced mood swings are some of the more common symptoms that get addressed. But one often overlooked issue is senior safety in the home. When a beloved relative develops dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, this can make them especially prone to injury. Let’s discuss different tips that caregivers can implement to keep a senior safer at home.
Consider whether a beloved relative is capable of cooking for him or herself
Cooking ordinarily sounds like a pretty benign task, but for someone who is increasingly forgetful or perhaps easily overwhelmed, it can become intimidating and even dangerous. Stoves that are left on, food that is not properly stored, and using knives and other sharp objects can all present hazards to someone suffering with a cognitive disease like Alzheimer’s. Ways to mitigate this hazard are to cook for a beloved relative yourself, hire help with meal preparation, or consider different types of home care. A family can also invest in cookware that automatically shuts off (using motion sensors or timers), or transition a relative to microwave meals (even this can provide a fire hazard though, and there may be a decrease in nutritional value).
Install handrails and other assistive devices in bathrooms
Did you know that incontinence can be a symptom of Alzheimer’s and other dementias? What this means is that sometimes a person ends up hurrying to the restroom...which poses an increased risk of falling or slipping. Bathtubs should have mats on the floor (or some other type of non-slip surface), and toilets should have handrails or grips to assist with lowering and rising off the seat. Also, be sure to adjust the temperature on the main water heater so that scalding water is not an issue; these is an easy way to prevent burns.
Ensure that walkways / pathways are clear of debris and well-lit
This is good advice for everyone - not just seniors, and not just those with cognitive impairment. Clear walkways in a house will decrease the chances of a fall, and they also help with overall organization and cleanliness of the home. It’s important that things and objects are in their proper place, and not cluttered; this can help a person with Alzheimer’s feel more comfortable and familiar in their home or residence. Installing night lights can also help a person navigate in the dark.
Consider what types of medicine a person needs, and how they take them
For many seniors, the weekly pillbox has become a familiar item. For someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, however, this is potentially dangerous. It’s easy enough to forget what day of the week it is even if you don’t have some sort of cognitive impairment. Mixing up medication, taking too much, or not following prescribed directions (such as “take with food” or “take before bed”) can all present health and safety hazards to a senior. A Registered Nurse Geriatric Care Manager is a great resource for medication management to keep a beloved relative safe at home.
When those we love are struck with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, it can be an incredibly difficult time. Relationships change, and it can be easy to forget the daily details or minutiae that can help keep a person safe in their home. Pennsylvania Agency of Nurses would like to offer our expertise, care, and support to your family in times like these to make sure your loved ones are safe, secure, and have the highest quality of life possible. We are your Philadelphia in home care experts. Please visit our Client Testimonial page, or contact us today by clicking the button below (or calling 610-359-1649).