When a family member has Alzheimer’s, everyone is concerned for his or her loved one’s safety. While a safe home environment is essential, it should also support the needs of the individual by promoting independence, positive social interaction and meaningful activities.
- Here are some additional ways to create a safe atmosphere without making the home too restrictive for the person with Alzheimer’s:Consider setting your home water heater below 120 degrees, since the individual may no longer be sensitive to extreme temperatures.
- Prepare a list of emergency phone numbers including local police and fire departments, as well as the nearest hospital and poison control center.
- Conduct fire drills regularly and check fire alarms and extinguishers monthly.
- “Kiddy Gates’ should not be used to prevent wandering because they are generally not strong enough to keep an individual from climbing over them or kicking them down.
- Mirrors and glass surfaces can cause confusion and delusions for a person with Alzheimer’s. If they frighten the affected individual, take them down or cover them up.
- Remove electrical appliances, such as hair dryers, curling irons and electric razors from the bathroom.
Provide a “safe place” where the person can roam or move freely without risk of injury. Even in barrier-free areas, caregivers should pay close attention to what the affected person is doing, particularly as the disease progresses and the likelihood of needing assistance increases.
Here are some tips for parents to talk to their children about Alzheimer’s.
Helping Kids Cope: Tips for Parents
- Talk to your children about Alzheimer’s disease. Discuss changes in the affected person’s behavior as they occur.
- Encourage young people to ask questions. Help them understand what’s going on and provide age-appropriate information and explanation.
- Remind kids that the behavior of the affected person is a reflection of the disease. Help them understand that the person may not always mean what they say, or intend to act the way they sometimes do.
- Educate and involve their friends. Ask your children if they’ve discussed Alzheimer’s disease with close friends or classmates. Talk about ways to make their friends feel welcome and comfortable in your home.
- Let them help. Find activities that the young person can help with. Be careful not to overwhelm them with too many caregiving responsibilities.
- Set aside time for the kids. Find some time each day to give your children some individualized attention, reassurance and emotional support.
Lois Young-Tulin, PhD, is an Assistant Geriatric Care Manager at Complete Care Strategies