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Making Home Safe for Those with Alzheimer’s

Keeping a loved one with Alzheimer’s safe, happy and healthy is a challenging task for any caregiver or family member, no matter how devoted and committed. As the disease progresses, simply “keeping an eye” on your loved one who is living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia is not enough to keep them out of harm’s way. As caregivers, making a few key changes in their environment will go a long way toward keeping your loved one safe, and will reduce worry for you as the caregiver, as well.

Richard Seifried, executive director of Carillon Assisted Living of Mooresville, explains: “In the early to mid stages of Alzheimer’s, there are things you can do to make the home more therapeutic and more safe. When families come and take a tour of Carillon Assisted Living of Mooresville’s Garden Place Alzheimer’s care program, there is a checklist I will share with them that we have in place here at Carillon.”

The following checklist will assist you to make the changes necessary in your home to accomplish this initiative:

#1. Purchase an external door alarm that sounds when the patient opens their bedroom door at night. There are many types to choose from, but my favorite hangs on the door knob and has a loud sound anytime the door is opened. This will alert you should they get up and begin to wander during the night.

#2. Store all chemicals and caustic liquids in a locked cabinet or closet. Sadly, a gallon of bleach could be mistaken for a milk carton, or a bottle of cleaner mistaken for tea.

#3. Utilize keyed deadbolts on external doors to prevent unassisted exiting when in the home setting.

Note: It is NEVER appropriate to lock someone with Alzheimer’s disease in a room or environment wherein they are unsupervised. The deadbolt is to be utilized only when there is someone present in the home that could safely assist the patient with exiting should an emergency situation arise, such as a fire.

#4. Purchase an Alzheimer’s identification bracelet to be worn by the patient at all times. The bracelet provides information on who to contact should the patient become lost or inadvertently separated from you.

#5. Prepare a “search and rescue” kit just in case your loved one ever became lost and needed to be found. This kit should be kept in an air tight plastic bag, and include an article of clothing worn by your loved one, such as a sock or T-shirt, several recent photos that show a close up of their face, and a list of places that your loved one may try to reach if they were lost, such as the address of where they lived most of their life, a favorite store, the address of a close friend that they used to visit frequently, etc. The article of clothing would be useful to assist K-9 units to quickly track anyone traveling on foot and the other items would help the police in search and rescue efforts.

#6. Remove throw rugs that are prone to slipping or flipping up on the edges when walked on, to prevent falls when pacing or wandering behaviors are present. Ensure adequate lighting is present to increase visual accuracy when ambulating around objects. Keep hand tools, drills, saws and sharp instruments such as knifes and scissors in locations that are not accessible to the patient. These items should be used with caution and close supervision to prevent accidental injury.




Posted in Alzheimer's and Dementia Care, Perspectives on Alzheimer's on March 12, 2014

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