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Making the Home Safe for an Alzheimer Patient

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Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia causes problems with memory, thinking and behaviour.  A person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease experiences memory loss, difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language as the brain is damaged by this. Because Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, gradually over time, more parts of the brain are affected, damaged and become more severe.

Memory loss due to Alzheimer’s disease often interferes with daily life. As their condition progresses, it is common for these patients to lose items such as keys or glasses around the house, struggle to speak in a conversation and even forget about recent events and much more.  Around the house, people with Alzheimer’s disease can forget how to use household appliances. They are also unable to recognize or find familiar areas in the home. As their physical ability decreases, they will have trouble with balance and will depend on a walker or wheelchair to get around. Due to this, caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease can be challenging as it calls for patience, creativity, knowledge and skills.

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To make the home a safe place for a person with Alzheimer’s, the first thing to do is to prevent. Because it is nearly impossible to predict what might happen, it is vital to look at every possible angle. Look at the home through the eyes of a person with Alzheimer’s. Identify possible dangerous areas and objects. This will help you take control of some of the potential problems that may create hazardous situations.

Next, lock or disguise hazardous areas. If you cannot lock the kitchen, staircase, workroom and storage areas, cover the doors with cloth or a painted mural. Lock up all medicines, alcohol, cleaning products and dangerous chemicals, weapons such as scissors and knives and all other potential hazardous items. If you have not installed safety devices such as fire extinguishes and smoke detectors, it is time you do so. If you have, then make sure they are in working order.

It is also best to simplify the home and remove tripping hazards. Minimise the amount of furniture you have, remove all clutters and furniture such as magazine racks, coffee tables and floor lamps. The key here is to allow them to move freely. If you have stairs, install a sturdy handrail and add carpets to stairs. Make sure floor surface has good traction for walking. Good traction lowers the chances that people will slip and fall.

Be also mindful of the temperature of water and food. It is best to set water temperature (in shower and other places) to warm to prevent scalding. Because a person with Alzheimer’s is still able to read until the late stage of the disease, use signs with simple instructions to remind them of danger. Label hot-water faucets red and cold-water faucets blue or write “hot” or “cold” near them. You can also put signs such as “Stop!” or “Don’t touch” or “Very Hot!” near oven, toaster, iron and other appliances that get hot. Be mindful that the signs are not too close as they might catch on fire.

Minimising danger can maximise independence. Making the environment safe can make a person with Alzheimer’s feel less restricted and experience increased security and mobility. As they become increasingly unable to care for themselves, it is important to adapt to every change of behaviour.

 

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