When a loved one is first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they often choose to remain at home instead of moving into a memory care community. For Alzheimer’s patients living at home, safety is our first concern. This is because Alzheimer’s can affect one’s understanding of time and place, their judgment capacity, and physical abilities like sense and balance, among others. However, with a few small adjustments, it is possible for loved ones with Alzheimer’s to continue living at home. Here are some common dangers Alzheimer’s patients may face, and how you can keep them safe.
Loss of Balance and Coordination
Issues with balance and coordination in Alzheimer’s patients can lead to falls, and the resulting injuries can range from light scrapes to major fractures and in some cases, such fall-related injuries may even be fatal.
To reduce the chances of your loved one falling and getting injured, here are some steps you might wish to take:
- Install handrails and anti-slip mats around the house.
- Remove tripping hazards like rugs and electrical cords.
- Provide a walker and slip-free socks for your loved one.
- Keep essentials like tissue paper and water within reach of your loved one.
Often described as one of the most dangerous rooms in the house for someone with Alzheimer’s, the kitchen is rife with hazards including fire from the stove, hot surfaces, electricity from appliances, sharp objects, and more. Here’s how you can make your kitchen safer:
- Install kitchen appliances with automatic shut-off features.
- Keep your kitchen uncluttered, especially near burners.
- Label faucets to indicate whether they’re for hot or cold water.
- Place plugs in unused electrical outlets.
- Use pots and pans with two handles for easy lifting.
- Store sharp objects in high cabinets where they can’t be easily reached.
Wandering and Getting Lost
When loved ones with Alzheimer’s gradually lose their understanding of time and place, they may begin to wander and get lost. This can develop into a far more dangerous issue as they may go missing or unknowingly wander into traffic.
To minimize the risk of your loved one wandering or getting lost, you can try these:
- Keep exterior doors locked, especially at night. Door locks should be placed up high, so they aren’t easily reached.
- Encourage your loved one to wear a tracking bracelet and ensure they always carry identification with them.
- Notify local authorities and neighbors about their wandering tendencies.
- Install an alarm system at home.
Handling Weapons at Home
Patients with Alzheimer’s should not be given any access to firearms. Loved ones with mental health symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s, like anxiety and hallucinations, can be endangered when there are firearms kept in the house.
You may wish to discuss the risk of having firearms around with your loved one. Work together to create a plan that works for you – you could either store firearms in a locked cabinet or completely remove all firearms and other weapons from the home.
While it’s safe for some Alzheimer’s patients to live at home, there are others who would benefit from receiving dedicated care in a memory care community. If you or your loved one is looking for a senior living community that provides specialized care for patients with Alzheimer’s, we warmly invite you to visit our beautiful grounds, and learn more about our SHINE® Memory Care Program at Discovery Village At Tampa Palms. Get in touch with us today.