Creating a Safe Environment for Alzheimer's Disease Patients
Adapting the Environment for Alzheimer's Disease
Safety in the home is important if you have Alzheimer’s disease. Because Alzheimer's disease can make daily activities, including eating, bathing, grooming, dressing, and using the toilet, more difficult, it's important to modify your or your loved one's living environment.
What Are Some General Safety Measures?
Some practical things you can do to create a safer environment include:
- Have emergency numbers -- police, fire, poison control, and a neighbor's phone number -- readily available in case of emergency. It is probably best to write these numbers on a sticker and put it by the phone.
- Have at least one phone located where it is always accessible. Keep a cordless phone in your pocket. This is especially important if you fall and can't get up to use the phone.
- Make sure smoke detectors work properly.
- Avoid using space heaters and electric blankets; these can be fire hazards.
- Consider installing a medical alert or personal alarm system for emergencies. Professional systems link directly to a representative around the clock. If you have an immediate medical problem, you simply push a button on a special device worn around your wrist or neck, and a signal for help is sent immediately.
Home Safety and Alzheimer's Disease
You may be able to continue to live independently if you have complete support services and a home environment adapted to your needs. A full home safety evaluation can be performed by therapists and social service workers who are professionally trained to look for potential hazards.
Here are some important points to keep in mind:
- Bathroom. The bathroom can be a dangerous place for a person with Alzheimer's disease. As your ability to function decreases, it may become necessary to install grab bars in the shower or fold-down shower seats. Also, be sure to use non-slip floor mats and slip-resistant appliqués or tiles in the shower or tub.
- Furniture. Simplify furniture arrangements. Make it as easy as possible for you or your loved one to navigate a room. Move or remove objects, such as a loose throw rug, that could be a tripping hazard.
Lighting. Be sure there is sufficient lighting. As people get older, they require 2-3 times the amount of light they needed when they were younger. Add the confusion associated with Alzheimer's disease, and you can understand how important it is to have enough light. However, too much light, especially when it causes glare, can be distracting and irritating.
- Kitchen. The oven and stove can be a fire hazard if not used properly. Make sure you or your loved one is able to work these appliances safely.
Research suggests that even mild Alzheimer's disease is associated with an increased risk of automobile accidents. It is important to check with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles to find out the procedure for evaluating a person's with Alzheimer's disease driving ability. Many areas will perform a thorough "driver safety evaluation" to determine whether it is safe for the person to keep driving. If there is any impairment in vision or judgment, a person with Alzheimer's should not drive.