In addition to the physical and mental effects of Alzheimer’s disease, the neurological condition can have a significant health on the safety of those who suffer with the condition. This is especially true as the disease progresses. Here are some of the main safety concerns for parents with Alzheimer’s disease and what preventative measures can be taken.
How Does Alzheimer’s Disease Affect Safety?
The changes to the brain and body caused by Alzheimer’s disease can have a significant effect on the safety of parents:
- Alzheimer’s affects judgement. Parents may forget basic skills, like how to use household appliances, or to turn off a hot stove when done.
- Alzheimer’s also affects the sense of time and place. As a result, parents may become confused about their whereabouts or feel lost even if they are at home.
- It has an effect on behaviour, leading to feelings of confusion, suspicion, and fear.
- It can affect balance and other physical abilities, making parents dependent on walkers or wheelchairs to move around.
- Finally, it has an effect on the senses, like vision, hearing, temperature sensitivity, and depth perception.
Top Safety Concerns
Consider the way Alzheimer’s affects parents and the way these effects could lead to safety concerns. Assess the home through the eyes of a person with Alzheimer’s. What are the areas of danger? Which objects are dangerous? What seemingly harmless object, task, or area, could become hazardous to a person with Alzheimer’s? Parents with Alzheimer’s may burn themselves or cause a fire if they forget to turn off the stove. They may injure themselves if they become confused while operating a lawn mower. They may lose their balance on the stairs and break a bone. Or they may suffer emotionally if they feel lost or fearful in their own home.
Keeping the Home Safe
There are many steps you can take to make the home safer for parents with Alzheimer’s. Some of them are:
- Lock away hazardous materials like cleaning supplies, alcohol, or weapons in a cabinet.
- Lock spaces that contain dangerous objects, like a toolshed or garage.
- Keep emergency contact information for the police, fire, paramedics, and poison control lines in a clear and convenient location.
- Make sure fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order.
- Walkways should be well-lit, especially at night time. This is especially important for the path between the bedroom and bathroom.
- Medications should be placed in a locked drawer, and organized in a pill organizer so no medication is forgotten or skipped.
- Make sure floor areas are clear and there are no tripping hazards
Managing a home for parents with Alzheimer’s can be stressful and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be done alone. Home healthcare services offer Alzheimer’s care to protect the safety of parents, ensure they are well-taken care of, and ease the stress on the whole family. Ottawa’s Alzheimer’s Society (AlzheimerOttawa.ca or 613.523.4004) offers support, information, education, and advice.
If you have any further questions about safety and Alzheimer’s care, give Qualicare Family Homecare a call any time at 613.366.2899.