If you are part of a family living with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s important to remember that one of the keys to aging at home is doing so safely. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease does not have to signal the loss of independence and freedom. As many as 70 percent of people living in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s today are doing so in their own homes.
Safety at home begins with adapting the environment to support the changing abilities of the person with Alzheimer’s. Be sure to re-evaluate home safety measures regularly as the disease progresses.
A person with dementia may be at risk in certain areas of the home or outdoors. Pay special attention to garages, work rooms, basements and outside areas. Inside the home, there are simple things you can do to modify your kitchen, living room, bathrooms and bedrooms to make them safer for the person with Alzheimer’s.
Invest in installed, working fire extinguishers and smoke detectors.
Lock or disguise hazardous areas using child-proof locks and doorknob covers.
Limit access to places with knives, appliances and poisonous chemicals.
Install grab bars in the bathroom to allow for independent, safe movement.
Add textured stickers to slippery surfaces, remove throw rugs, minimize clutter and limit access to stairs to reduce risk of falls.
Enroll the person with dementia in an emergency response service designed specifically for individuals with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia who wander or may have a medical emergency. Should the individual become lost, a caregiver can report the situation to an emergency response network including the local Alzheimer’s Association chapter and law enforcement agencies that will work to get the individual home safely. You may also want to consider a web-based GPS location management service to remotely monitor the person with Alzheimer’s. Check with the Alzheimer’s Association for more information about these services.
If you enlist the help of caregiving professionals to provide care for your loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, they’ll be able to point out additional suggestions to make your home a safe environment. Companies such as Home Instead Senior Care typically provide a home safety evaluation as part of their initial in-home assessment to offer recommendations specific to your living space and the needs of the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia.