Remove Hazards and Risks to Prevent Accidents When the Person with Alzheimer’s is in Your Home

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Remove Hazards and Risks to Prevent Accidents when the person with Alzheimer’s moves into your home

You can’t predict nor prevent every danger or hazard in the environment of someone with  Alzheimer’s Dementia. They may catch the flu or slip on a wet driveway. But many accidents can be prevented with a little forethought and Hazard Control.

Some things you must remember when dealing with memory loss and Alzheimer’s

  • Your patient may not remember that he can no longer cook his own meals
  • The person with dementia may not remember that she/he can not adjust the hot water
  • The person with dementia may not remember that aluminum foil never goes inside the micro-wave
  • The person with dementia may not remember that they have already taken their medication on this day

I think you get the idea. Someone with Alzheimer’s or Dementia may not remember what is dangerous and what is not. And a loud warning from the caregiver when they do something wrong, can make the person with Alzheimer’s highly agitated in fear and trepidation. They are confused, and as their caregiver– it becomes our responsibility to keep them safe from their environment and volatile situations.

Constant warnings to them do no good as they don’t remember your warning longer than a few seconds.

A home with a calm, neat, tidy and consistent atmosphere is the safest. Try to stay as close as possible to the same routine, to have a place for everything and everything in its place. Keep your home as stress-free as possible. Stress often causes the person with Alzheimer’s to become agitated and angry. Then the entire home is agitated and struggling to recover balance.

If the person with dementia becomes angry about something, it’s much better to calm them without arguing. The best line of action is to change the subject if possible, or distract the person from whatever may be upsetting to them.

I know this sounds impossible to do–certainly, no home can be clean, and calm and peaceful all the time. Yet, the more clutter-free you can make your home, the safer your home will be.  A neat home removes the fear of someone tripping and falling and makes other “possible” hazards more easily noticeable. Nerves aren’t frayed because something can’t be found. General fatigue and confusion tend to grow in a frustrated and cluttered home. Anything that reduces confusion or tension or stress is a plus!

A head-start in this direction is to follow some simple safety rules.

In The Home

Remove or store things away in a safe place that may cause problems if the person with Alzheimer’s tries to use them–

Iron, Knives, Hair Dryer, Sewing Machine, Power Tools, Curling Iron, Car Keys, medications, household cleaning agents

Try to think of everything that could be a hazard before it becomes a hazard.

It’s a good idea to lower the temperature on your hot water heater, for example; since some people with memory-loss no longer understand how to adjust hot water and may get a serious burn from turning a faucet to the “hot” position.

Some other items that may pose a hazard and need special attention

Stairs, (someone confused could get turned-around and fall down the stairs), Large areas of glass, such as a wall. Furniture with sharp corners or edges. Chairs that tip over easily. Balconies with a short banister. Hot radiators or room heaters in the winter. Open windows on a second floor or higher.

Outdoors

Much the same as creating a safe environment for a child, the outdoor areas should have grill-work on glass doors, bannisters on tall porches, decals on sliding glass-patio doors, locked gates on swimming pool areas
Check for uneven ground, holes in pavement or grassy areas that may cause a fall or turn an ankle
Never leave an outdoor grill unattended while the coals are still hot
Make certain lawn furniture is safe and stable, not easily tipped over
As with small children store out of sight, pesticides, gasoline, paint, thinners or items such as these.

Since a person with Alzheimer’s is unable to learn, it is of little value to warn them of all the dangers in your home. Life will be easier and less worrisome for everyone once the hazards and dangers have been checked and corrected. With a neat and tidy home, any new hazards or dangers that arise will come to your attention right away.

And as you emphasize the benefits of a safe and hazard-free home, others in your family may grow to appreciate your efforts and assist in keeping other areas trouble and hazard free as well.

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Comments

  1. pam willard says

    Hi- Thank you for posting this info. Just recently, my 92 year old grandmother asked me to bring back to her a sewing machine that she gave me many years ago. She has been diagnoised with alzeheimers for a couple of years now. She was just as sincere and nice as could be about the fact that she wanted to make a quilt. She had finished a hand sewn quilt not too long ago that was absolutely beautiful considering how hard they are to make and all the effort she put into it….she did very well with it ………I have struggled with taking the machine back to her as it came to her during my visit just so sporatically THAT SHE NEEDED THIS. When I reminded her that the machine itself wasnt operating properly at the time that she gave it to me she then sharply requested that I contact my brother who had bought her peddle sewing machine back in the early 80’s and see if I could get that one for her. She assured me that she could operate it. That she hadnt forgot how to work the peddle, (but all the while I know what a physical challenge and coordination is needed) Grannie was with me in my home only for a few months…..she insisted that she be able to go home…….We did help her to get back into her house with Caretakers. I was actually considering taking the machine she had given me and having it fixed at the repair shop…..but was very afraid that if, she couldnt get it to do as she wanted that she would become very discouraged and frustrated. What makes it even more difficult is that the caregivers staying with her didnt seem to realize the danger (while they have consistently requested me to bring the machine back over, since the day she mentioned it, I think more or less to appease her), nor the fact that the machine itself wasnt working up to par. belt and bobbin issues. AT any rate, I feel your post helped to shed light to the fact that whether working appropiately or not……..taking the machine over there could result in a very bad situation. I pray that I am making the right choice. …… My Grannie used to make that machine sing. ……

    • sandy says

      Hello Pam,
      Oh, your grannie sounds like a lovely lady. I know how confusing their requests can be sometimes. I certainly agree with you, taking the sewing machine back to her doesn’t sound like a good idea to me either. It might be that her caretakers have never been caregivers for an Alzheimer’s patient. Their needs and requests are different than any other elderly patient. She isn’t able to reason and understand what is actually best for herself.

      If the caretakers aren’t aware of the dangers of a sewing machine, they may be reminding her or encouraging her to get the machine back. When logically, they might be able to persuade her to crochet or knit instead. My Mom crocheted into late stages of Alzheimer’s but did eventually forget how to crochet. Then Mom enjoyed stringing beads. I would buy heavy yarn and large wooden beads. She would string these beads and took lots of pleasure in doing so.

      If you can speak to the caretakers alone, you might let them know that you believe that the sewing machine is too dangerous and you’d like them to encourage her to do something less mechanical, such as knit or crochet or beading. It would have to be something she is already familiar with because they aren’t able to learn new things at this stage.

      Best of luck with this Pam, I think you have the right idea.
      ~Sandy

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