Seniors with Alzheimers disease presents many challenges. Memory loss, difficulty completing familiar tasks, and a delay with basic problem solving skills can cause frustration and anger in many patients. Moreover, Alzheimer’s can cause patients to be a danger to themselves and their loved ones who share the same home with them.
While nursing homes are an option many choose to take in the later stages of this disease in a loved one who requires memory care services, this may not be the right time for your loved one due to finances, your parent may still be quite independent, or you haven’t found the appropriate nursing home yet. Regardless of your situation, safeguarding the home with someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia is a necessary preventative measure.
There are many things that you can do to create the safest environment possible for your loved one.
Here is a checklist to ensure that you've covered all the basics:
Install alarms on doors and windows so that it will beep when opened to avoid your loved one from wandering off. You may also want to purchase a medical alert bracelet for your loved one in case they do happen to leave home and become disoriented or confused.
Remove locks that are on the inside of the doors (like on a bedroom or bathroom) so that your loved one doesn't accidentally lock themselves inside.
Lower the temperature of the water heater so that your loved one won’t burn themselves while showering or washing dishes.
I hate to say it this way, but look at your home with fresh eyes as if you had a baby or toddler in the house. Lock up medicines and cleaning products, put outlet covers on the walls, secure bookshelves to the walls, and put guards on the sharp edges of coffee tables and dressers in case your loved one stumbles or falls.
Remove excess clutter, area rugs, boxes, end tables or anything else that might pose a tripping hazard.
Remove stove and burner knobs off of the oven. There are also sensors available so when a loved one walks away, the stove automatically shuts off after 15 minutes.
Add grab bars to showers and baths.
Lock any outdoor buildings you may have. Safety-proof the garage so power tools, pesticides, shovels, etc. are inaccessible.
Keep car keys hidden.
You may also want to visit thiscaringhome.org to go room by room to make certain that you have done everything you can to protect your loved one. This site also lets you know of the innovative products that are available to dementia patients like automatic shut off valves to prevent bath overflow and memory aids for patients to maintain their independence.
Living with dementia is difficult, but residing in a home that is safe and secure will give your parent or loved one the familiarity and independence that they so cherish.