C.A.R.E.S. CORNER – NOVEMBER
C.A.R.E.S. Corner articles are submitted by a Benevilla C.A.R.E.S. Sustaining Partner. Our partners are vetted by C.A.R.E.S. staff and are experts in their industry. This month’s article below is submitted by Jeannie Grates of The Park at Surprise, Koelsch Senior Communities.
This article covers a wide range of safety concerns that may arise, and some modifications may never be needed. It is important, however, to re-evaluate home safety periodically as behavior and abilities change.
Use the following room-by-room checklist to alert you to potential hazards and to record any changes you need to make to help keep a person with Alzheimer’s disease safe.
Throughout the Home
• Display emergency numbers and your home address near all telephones.
• Use an answering machine when you cannot answer phone calls. A person with Alzheimer’s disease often may be unable to take messages or could become a victim of telephone exploitation. Turn ringers on low to avoid distraction and confusion.
• Install secure locks on all outside doors and windows and install alarms that notify you when a door or window is opened.
• Hide a spare house key outside in case the person with Alzheimer’s disease locks you out of the house.
• Avoid the use of extension cords and throw rugs to help prevent falls
• Check all rooms for adequate lighting and place nightlights throughout the home.
• Remove knobs from stove, washer and appliances if the person with Alzheimer’s tampers with machinery.
• Keep car keys in a secure place to prevent the person with Alzheimer’s from driving.
• If the person with Alzheimer’s smokes, limit smoking materials to one location. This reduces fire hazards, and with these reminders out of sight, the person may forget the desire to smoke.
• Place decals at eye level on sliding glass doors and picture windows to identify the glass pane.
• Lock doors to laundry room, garage and unused rooms.
• Remove portable space heaters. If you use portable fans, be sure that objects cannot be placed in the blades.
• Keep the remote controls for the television, DVD player, and stereo system out of sight.
Lock up or Consider Removing:
• Medications, including over-the-counter medicine. Child-resistant caps are available if needed.
• All toxic materials, such as paint, fertilizer, laundry soap, and cleaning supplies.
• All alcohol, drinking alcohol can increase confusion.
• Decorative fruits and vegetables which might appear to be edible.
• Poisonous plants: check with local nurseries or contact poison control (1-800-222-1222) for a list of poisonous plants.
• Fish tanks: The combination of glass, water, electrical pumps, and potentially poisonous aquatic life could be harmful to a curious person with Alzheimer’s disease.
Outside the Home
• Consider installing a ramp with handrails as an alternative to the steps.
• Eliminate uneven surfaces or walkways, hoses, and other objects that may cause a person to trip.
• Restrict access to a swimming pool by fencing it with a locked gate and closely supervising it when in use.
• In the patio area, remove the fuel source and fire starters from any grills when not in use, and supervise use when the person with Alzheimer’s is present.
• Consider a “NO SOLICITING” sign for the front gate or door.
• Install childproof door latches on storage cabinets and drawers designated for breakable or dangerous items.
• Lock away sharp objects like knives, scissors, and small appliances to help avoid injury.
• Install safety knobs and an automatic shut-off switch on the stove.
• Insert a drain trap in the kitchen sink to catch anything that may otherwise become lost or clog the plumbing.
• Consider disconnecting the garbage disposal. People with Alzheimer’s may place objects or their own hands in the disposal.
• Anticipate the reasons a person with Alzheimer’s disease might get out of bed, such as hunger, thirst, going to the bathroom, restlessness, and pain. Try to meet these needs before needed.
• Use a monitoring device to alert you to any sounds indicating a fall or other need for help.
• Remove the lock from the bathroom door to prevent the person with Alzheimer’s from getting locked inside.
• Place nonskid adhesive strips, decals, or mats in the tub, shower and bathroom floor.
• Install grab bars in the bathroom and tub/shower. A grab bar in contrasting color to the wall is easier to see.
• Use a foam rubber faucet cover (often used for small children) in the tub to prevent serious injury should the person with Alzheimer’s fall.
• Use a plastic shower stool and a hand-held shower head to make bathing easier.
• Set the water heater at 120°F to avoid scalding tap water.
You can buy products or gadgets necessary for home safety at stores carrying hardware, electronics, medical supplies, and children’s items.