Alzheimer’s Association Encourages Caregivers to Safeguard their Homes During National Safety Month in June
TOLEDO, OH — May 31, 2022 — During National Safety Month this June, the Alzheimer’s Association is encouraging caregivers and families of loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia to keep home safety top of mind.
There are currently more than 6 million Americans age 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s, including 220,000 Ohio residents.
Home safety is important for everyone, but this is especially true if you are caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. The need for a comprehensive safety plan becomes increasingly important as the disease progresses.
“The brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s or other dementia affect each person differently and can pose new safety concerns and considerations that may have not existed previously,” said Pam Myers, program director of the Alzheimer’s Association Northwest Ohio Chapter. “These can include changes in the individual’s physical ability, judgment and behavior.”
The Alzheimer’s Association offers a home safety checklist to help keep loved ones safe, including:
.Evaluate the environment – A person with dementia may be at risk in certain areas of the home or outdoors. Pay special attention to garages, basements and outside areas where there are more likely to be tools, chemicals, cleaning supplies and other items that may require supervision.
.Be prepared for emergencies – Keep a list of emergency phone numbers and addresses for local police and fire departments, hospitals and poison control helplines. Have working fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
.Install locks out of sight – Place deadbolts either high or low on exterior doors to make it difficult for the person to wander out of the house. Keep an extra set of keys hidden near the door for easy access. Remove locks in bathrooms or bedrooms to prevent the person with dementia from locking themselves in.
.Keep walkways well lit – Add extra lights to entries, doorways, stairways, areas between rooms, and bathrooms. Use nightlights in hallways, bedrooms and bathrooms to prevent accidents and reduce disorientation.
.Remove tripping hazards – Keep floors and other surfaces clutter-free. Keep extension cords tugged away. Remove throw rugs or smaller furniture items that can be a tripping hazard such as magazine racks and coffee tables.
.Avoid safety hazards in the kitchen – Use appliances that have an auto shut-off feature. Prevent unsafe stove usage by applying stove knob covers, removing knobs, or turning off the gas when the stove is not in use.
.Place medications in a locked drawer or cabinet – To help ensure that medications are taken safely, use a pillbox organizer or keep a daily list and check off each medication as it is taken.
.Avoid injury in the bathroom – Install walk-in showers. Add grab bars to the shower or tub and at the edge of the vanity to allow for independent, safe movement. Add textured stickers to slippery surfaces. Set the water temperature in sinks and bathtubs at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or less to prevent scalding.
.Assess safety hazards in the garage and/or basement – Limit access to large equipment, such as lawnmowers, weed trimmers or snow blowers. Keep poisonous chemicals, such as gasoline or paint thinner, out of reach. Lock and properly store ladders when not in use to prevent a tripping or climbing hazard. Remove access to car keys if the individual with dementia is no longer driving. Install a motion sensor on the garage door.
.Remove or secure firearms and other weapons – The presence of a weapon in the home of a person with dementia may lead to unexpected danger. Dementia can cause a person to mistake a caregiver for an intruder or they may lack the cognitive abilities to use a firearm safely.
“Taking measures to improve safety can prevent injuries and help a person with dementia feel more relaxed, less overwhelmed, and maintain his or her independence longer,” said Myers. “It is important for families to re-evaluate safety plans as the disease progresses and safety issues change. Our chapter offers free care consultations and educational programs that offer help to families who are concerned about these and other issues in caring for loved ones with dementia.”
To learn more about home safety for your loved one including tips on wandering, driving and medication safety, go to alz.org/nwohio or call 419.537.1999 or the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.