Elderly Parent Home Safety and Alzheimer's
Elderly parent safety is essential, but an someone diagnosed with Alzheimer's is especially at risk for injuries, slips and falls in their homes, or the homes of their caretakers.
Individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's may go through several stages of decline in cognition skills, verbal ability and levels of understanding. The caregiver for an individual with Alzheimer's faces special challenges and stress when it comes to making sure a loved one is safe and secure.
Because different stages of Alzheimer's require different sets of needs, safety issues and home modifications, it is often difficult to determine exactly what you might need to do to keep your elderly parent safe, both inside the home and outside.
It is suggested that whenever possible, plan for later stages of the condition when making your home safe. For example, one of the first things a caregiver needs to assess is the level of danger any portion of the home might pose for a parent with Alzheimer's. Such areas of the house that may, either now or in the near future, be dangerous include but are not limited to:
In all areas of the house, consider placing electrical socket covers on sockets that are not being used. In the bathroom and kitchen areas, remove appliances that are not being used and keep them in a storage cupboard that you can secure with childproof locks. Remember, something seemingly harmless as the toaster may cause injury to someone suffering from cognitive loss.
An elderly parent suffering from Alzheimer's often suffers from poor vision or depth perception. The bathroom is an especially dangerous place if others share the space. To keep it as safe as possible:
Elderly parents suffering from Alzheimer's have a very deep fear of falling. Enable your parent to maintain hygiene needs by making the bathroom as safe and secure as possible. Make sure lighting is adequate. Give them a bench to sit on when bathing, if doing so will help relieve anxiety.
The bedroom is a challenging space for any caregiver of an individual with Alzheimer's. Fear of the dark is another issue for those with cognitive issues, so make sure a nightlight is placed in strategic points in the bedroom and along the hallway to light the way to the bathroom.
Beds or other bedroom furniture should not be on rollers, and if they are, make sure the rollers are locked in place. Try to use color as often as possible to help mark various objects, such as the bed, a chair or dresser. Such strong visual clues will help your elderly parent navigate around the bedroom safely during daylight or evening hours.
Kitchens need to be not only fall-proofed, but also elderly-proofed against burns and other injuries. Ovens, crock-pots, stoves, hot plates and microwaves are all sources of potential danger to those afflicted with Alzheimer's.
If necessary, take the knobs off the stove. Install a circuit breaker or shut off valve where your elderly parent will not have easy or highly visible access.
Cooking with an open flame might prove especially dangerous for someone suffering from cognitive difficulties and the caregiver will have to determine at what stage extra precautions need to be addressed.
Living with an elderly parent diagnosed with Alzheimer's is not an easy task. However, by planning and adapting the home as necessary, keeping a keen eye out for potential hazards and risks, and modifying the home when needed may help make your life, and the life of your parent a lot easier.