The main problem for people with Alzheimer’s is the accompanying forgetfulness and dementia that comes with it. This makes the patient more prone to certain dangers and risks.
Additionally, family members or caregivers would want to safeguard the person from falling down because an injury to the head could worsen Alzheimer’s. In fact, since Alzheimer’s affects largely seniors, any injury could become very problematic.
Moreover, because Alzheimer’s patients tend to find their environment unrecognisable – and become forgetful – as the disease progresses, they might not remember that shaky tile in the passageway or that doormat outside xyz door, and might lose their balance on account of a lack of anticipation.
Here are 11 safety tips to better care for and safeguard loved ones with Alzheimer’s
If you have children, restrict their playing and toys to one area of the house. A toy lying forgotten might cause the Alzheimer’s patient to trip and hurt themselves.
If you have small pets that tend to spread out and catch a nap in the middle of rooms try and separate them too from the Alzheimer’s patients pacing route or the route they may take to the bathroom or other rooms used by them.
Doormats and throw rugs should ideally be removed depending on the stage of Alzheimer’s.
If you have french windows and glass doors separating various areas of the house consider marking them with a decal or any sort of item that lets the Alzheimer’s patient know that there is a glass in front of them.
Deal with slick and slippery surfaces
- Use skid proof rubber mats on slick flooring
- Invest in skid-proof slippers for the Alzheimer’s patient. Let them choose if they don’t like your choice
- Install handrails in the bathroom and near the toilet seat
- A shower chair could help reducing the possibility of slipping in the bathroom
- Keep the Alzheimer’s patients away from areas where there are plants/ muck/ wet mud that might prove to be slippery. If gardening is one of their favorite pastimes, then they’ll need a gardening companion
- Change the tiling or use rubber anti-skid mats in areas where the Alzheimer’s patient likes to pace. Also check the resistance of these and replace them as soon as they lose their friction/ become smooth.
Put important numbers up visibly
Especially if nobody is going to be home, the numbers of caregivers and police should be printed and placed near telephones and areas where the Alzheimer’s patient mostly spends their time.
Restrict access to sensitive data
Alzheimer’s patients might become prey to unscrupulous telephone-based phishing or internet-based phishing. Today most seniors have been made aware of phishing by their banks and and of course their whatsapp groups. However, do be mindful that your parent or dear senior with Alzheimer’s might have received these instructions but might forget them (or might not remember them at the moment when most needed).
Keep sensitive data password protected or on devices that the Alzheimer’s patient does not have access to.
Perhaps talk to your bank about a second layer of protection (perhaps OTPs for transactions should come to a family member’s phone?)
Consider telephone and internet access
For the very same reasons detailed in the previous point, you may want to monitor or restrict smartphone and computer usage to minimize the chances of the senior becoming a victim of any kind of fraud, exploitation and harassment.
You also don’t want to confuse them further with memes that might confuse their sense of reality, fake news, conspiracy theories and other miscellaneous internet-propagated nonsense.
Dangerous and hazardous items and substances under lock and key
Alcohol, psychotropic or other mental health drugs, detergents, solvents and paints, shoe polish, even cosmetic products like makeup and nail polish remover (not to mention creams and other products that smell edible because of their vanilla/chocolate/coffee fragrance), detergent, floor and toilet cleaner and dishwashing solution should all be under child lock or somehow out of reach.
The same goes for kitchen knives and any other sharp objects.
The logic to be applied is that a child wouldn’t be allowed access to these and the adult at hand might have forgotten their understanding of these items and substances being harmful.
There is always a possibility that the Alzheimer’s patient has a fall in a locked room. You do not want to waste time breaking locks in an emergency like that. The Alzheimer’s patient’s living quarters and bathroom/ loo should not be lockable from the inside because you should always be able to come to their rescue promptly.
If the patient is still in early stages and values their safety, a DND sign may be considered.
Monitoring person or device
Baby monitors are cheap and easy to use; you might even have one lying around!
Supervise stove, geyser and hot pad usage
Forgetfulness can result in these not being switched off resulting in a huge disaster. Do check that stoves and geysers are switched off after use.
If you are fortunate enough to live in a part of India that is cool enough to require a heater, it is extremely important for you to control its use by the Alzheimer’s patient. Keep the control with you.
Heating pads are popular these days as a pain reliever but do check that they are not being used for such long intervals, that burns occur.
Be prepared for any emergency
- Have SOPs in place in case of a fall
- Place the Alzheimer’s patient’s name and your contact details/ the caregiver’s or family member’s contact details on their person either in the form of a badge or in their pockets.
- Lock front doors or front gates so that the Alzheimer’s patient cannot wander off.
Always have your own set of keys
An Alzheimer’s patient could fail to recognise the sound of your doorbell or might just lock the door and fall asleep, or it could be something more serious that keeps them from letting you in the house
Always keep your own set of keys on you so that you can not only enter your own home with ease but also so that you can come to their rescue promptly.