20 Home Safety Tips for Alzheimer's

20 Home Safety Tips for Alzheimer's

Here are 20 ways to make your home a safer place for a loved one with dementia. 

While some Alzheimer's behaviors can be managed medically, many, such as wandering and agitation, cannot. It is more effective to change the person's surroundings—for example, to remove dangerous items —than to try to change behaviors. Changing the home environment can give the person more freedom to move around independently and safely. 

Minimize Danger

People with Alzheimer's disease may not see, smell, touch, hear, and/or taste things as they used to. You can do things around the house to make life safer and easier for the person. For example: 

  1. Check all rooms for adequate lighting. Use nightlights in bathrooms, bedrooms, and hallways.

  2. Be careful about small pets. The person may not see the pet and trip over it.

  3. Reset the water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent burns.

  4. Label hot-water faucets red and cold-water faucets blue, or write the words "hot" and "cold" near them.

  5. Install grab bars in the tub/shower and beside the toilet.

  6. Put signs near the oven, toaster, and other things that get hot. The sign could say, "Stop!" or "Don't Touch—Very Hot!"

You can also try these tips: 

  • Check foods in the refrigerator often. Throw out any that have gone bad.

  • Put away or lock up things like toothpaste, lotions, shampoos, rubbing alcohol, soap, or perfume. They may look and smell like food to a person with Alzheimer's.

  • If the person wears a hearing aid, check the batteries and settings often.

Basic Safety for Every Room

Add the following items to the person's home if they are not already in place: 

  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in or near the kitchen and in all bedrooms

  • Emergency phone numbers and the person's address near all phones

  • Safety knobs and an automatic shut-off switch on the stove

  • Childproof plugs for unused electrical outlets and childproof latches on cabinet doors

You can buy home safety products at stores carrying hardware, electronics, medical supplies, and children's items. 

Lock up or remove these potentially dangerous items from the home: 

  1. Medicines

  2. Alcohol

  3. Cleaning and household products, such as paint thinner and matches

  4. Poisonous plants—contact the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 or www.poison.org to find out which houseplants are poisonous.

  5. Guns and other weapons, scissors, knives, power tools, and machinery

  6. Gasoline cans and other dangerous items in the garage

Moving Around the House

Try these tips to prevent falls and injuries:

  1. Simplify the home. Too much furniture can make it hard to move around freely.

  2. Get rid of clutter, such as piles of newspapers and magazines.

  3. Have a sturdy handrail on stairways.

  4. Put carpet on stairs, or mark the edges of steps with brightly colored tape so the person can see them more easily.

  5. Put a gate across the stairs if the person has balance problems.

  6. Remove small throw rugs. Use rugs with nonskid backing instead.

  7. Make sure cords to electrical outlets are out of the way or tacked to baseboards.

  8. Clean up spills right away.

Make sure the person with Alzheimer's has good floor traction for walking. To make floors less slippery, leave floors unpolished or install nonskid strips. Shoes and slippers with good traction also help the person move around safely.

You may want to re-evaluate the safety of the person's home as behavior and abilities change.

For more home safety tips, see the NIH / National Institute on Aging's checklist:

Retrain Your Mind - Communication - Dementia

There are so many negative and positive occurrences in the world that all seemingly stem from communication. Governments and politicians try to out maneuver one another to gain an advantage. Wars begin on assumptions. Employees and employers squabble based on perceived or assumed expectations that go unmet. Debates turn into arguments which turn into violence. All this because we are sure that our point of view is right and there is no other way. What if we untrained ourselves and began communicating with each other like each had something to teach one another. Or what if we communicated with each other like this "12 Top Tips In Working With People with Dementia" below? I think we'd find that our family, business, and community interactions would be more positive than negative. 

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What happened to house calls from doctors?

The concept of a family practice doctor, as we know it now, is rather new. For most of our modern history the doctor was someone connected with the family. The doctor knew their patients—they knew their medical history, their occupation, and often even a good bit about their daily habits. They knew the names of their patient’s children, and might have even been there when the kids were born. The doctor was someone who served the family and the community. They made house calls. They spent time following up on health concerns.

This picture of the personal physician is in stark contrast to how many people interact with their physicians in our 21st century model. Startling statistics have come out in the past 10 years about the average day and client load of a standard doctor. For example, the New York Times reports that appointment times allocate a full 8 minutes for a doctor to spend with each of their patients. According to the Washington Post, physicians in the United States have an average of 2,367 patients under their care.

A client load of this magnitude and appointment allocations of such a minimal amount of time make it impossible for physicians to know their patients in the same way it used to be.  At least, that is the case in a standard medical practice.

Concierge medicine is the exception to these rules. This is a branch of medical care that has arisen out of the need for more personalized attention and medical care that the bulk-service physician industry no longer allows for.

What Concierge Medicine Delivers

There is a reason not all physicians provide concierge medicine. This type of practice brings doctors one-on-one with their patients, including into their homes and lives. Typically, a concierge medicine program will include benefits like:

  • House calls, as needed
  • Longer appointment times, including a complete review of test results
  • Same day and next day appointment availability, as needed
  • Wellness coaching, including medical weight loss
  • State of the art medical testing
  • 24/7 access to your physician

Concierge medicine allows a physician to develop a closer relationship with their patients, giving them the chance to spend more time focusing on the needs of one individual. In practice, this means more time for preventative and diagnostic testing, more time to review test results, and a greater chance of catching chronic and potentially fatal issues before they develop.

At Renaissance Senior Care, we believe that concierge medicine will provide your loved one and our residents with the care they deserve. Visit any one of our 8 assisted living homes in Montana and experience how enlightened elder care should feel like.