Rita sat in the emergency room with her elderly father as the doctor put in some stitches to close up the cuts in his feet. Her father was in the moderate stage of Alzheimer’s disease and had dropped a glass in the kitchen, shattering it. As he left to find a broom or something to clean it up, he became distracted. An hour later, he cut his bare feet on the shards, after forgetting he had ever dropped it. Rita realized that she needed to implement some serious home safety standards and wondered about other ways to keep her elderly father safe.
The daily challenges of caring for an elderly relative with Alzheimer’s disease covers every aspect of their lives—from finances and hygiene to safety. It’s easy for family caregivers to fall into a pattern of care that doesn’t address the progress of the disease, especially when it comes to keeping their aging loved one safe from accidents and hazards in the home.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Home Safety
There are many things that Alzheimer’s disease does to the brain that makes everyday household tasks possibly dangerous. One example includes creating fire hazards with stovetops, ovens, matches, lighters, and candles. Another is getting cuts from kitchen accessories such as knives, metal cans, and broken glass. Other safety issues center on wandering, slip and fall accidents, and sanitation. Family caregivers must asses the safety of the home every few months, especially as the disease progresses. What may not be an issue now could cause a problem down the road.
Home Safety Tips for Family Caregivers
Instead of trying to stay a step ahead of an elderly relative with Alzheimer’s disease and head off any dangerous behavior, family caregivers can make modifications to the home to eliminate the opportunities in the first place.
Here are some examples of home safety modifications that can dramatically reduce the dangers at home:
- Put locks or sensors on outside doors to prevent wandering
- Lock up medication, both prescription and over-the-counter
- Transition to plastic plates, bowls, and cups
- Remove the knobs from the stove and oven, except for when in use
- Hide or lock up any incendiary devices like matches or lighters
- Lower the temperature of the hot water heater to prevent accidental scalding
There are many other home safety ideas that are unique to the person’s home and the level of the disease in the aging adult. It’s never too late to make the place safer for seniors.
Hiring Senior Care Providers Can Help
Because a lot of the accidents that happen at home are due to aging adults being alone and trying to accomplish a daily task, it makes sense for family caregivers to arrange for someone to be with the senior all the time as a companion and supervisor. To ensure the aging adult with Alzheimer’s disease is never left alone, family caregivers can hire senior care providers. Senior care providers with training on how to work with aging adults with Alzheimer’s disease will provide quality care and excellent supervision when family members cannot be there.