In the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease, patients generally don’t present safety problems. But because of the nature of the disease’s progression, those in the later stages of Alzheimer’s do present safety problems. For example, many early-stage Alzheimer patients can still safely drive a car. But by three years after diagnosis, more than 50% give up driving.
Following are hints to help you, the caregiver, keep your loved one safe.
1. Alzheimer patients are prone to falls. Floors should be kept clear of loose items. Remove scatter rugs. Roll up lamp cords. Roll up extension cords. Move furniture from walking areas. Place tape on sharp furniture edges.
2. Put decals on sliding glass doors so Alzheimer patients don’t accidentally attempt to walk through them.
3. Often, Alzheimer patients try to hide objects. Ovens, burners, and garbage disposals are favorite hiding spots. You may want to consider putting a lock on the oven door, and disconnecting the garbage disposal.
4. Never leave an Alzheimer patient alone in a car. They may get caught in the power windows, release the brakes, or accidentally start the car.
5. Store all medicines, solvents, and cleaning supplies in locked drawers and cabinets.
6. Consider removing the lock tumblers from a patient’s room to avoid having them accidentally lock themselves in their room from the inside.
7. Keep clotheslines high enough that a patient can’t walk into them. This may prevent a fall or even prevent them from choking.
8. Alzheimer patients have a reduced ability to feel pain. Many patients are unable to speak, so they cannot tell you they are in pain. Therefore, never feed a patient food or liquid without testing the temperature first. Also, always test the water temperature before exposing the patient to shower or bath.
9. Some patients can be frightened by the jets of water from a showerhead. Consider replacing the jet spray showerhead with one that gives off a fine spray.
10. Make the shower or bath tub a safer place by installing grab bars in the shower and bath to prevent falls. Invest in a sturdy bath or shower seat, which will allow a patient to bathe while sitting down. Also, consider a rubber, non-slip bath or shower mat with special suction cups.
11. Placing outlet covers on electrical sockets will help prevent a patient from receiving an electrical shock , should they stick a piece of metal into the outlet.
12. Alzheimer patients cannot see well in the dark. Provide night lights in walking areas and at the top of stairs. Provide low level table lighting for night use. Consider putting a safety gate at the top of stairs at night.
13. Many Alzheimer patients wander. Remember to keep upstairs windows locked. Sliding glass doors can be locked by putting a small board in the sliding track. You might want to consider using a red stop sign on the door. Research has shown that red is one color that patients do see well.
14. Alzheimer patients fatigue quickly. They seem to have the most energy in the morning and early afternoon hours. As darkness approaches, they become irritable and may display obstinate behaviors. often, they spend the night awake and wander about. This is referred to as ” sundown syndrome “. A baby nursery monitor in the patient’s bedroom will allow you to hear the patient if he or she begins to stir during the night
15. Sundown syndrome can be eased for Alzheimer patients by making certain they receive regular exercise. Frequent walks outdoors in the bright light not only provides exercise, but it also exposes the patient to much needed sunlight. Research has shown that patients sleep better and longer if they receive adequate daily sunlight exposure. Bright light increases the secretion of melatonin in the brain.
Melatonin regulates the daily rhythms of sleep, body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate. Melatonin is produced more as darkness approaches and reaches peak production sometime in the early morning hours. Research has also found that many Alzheimer patients have low blood levels of melatonin, so it is even more vital to increase melatonin production by bright light exposure daily.
16. Consider removing mirrors from a patient’s room…some patients are unable to recognize themselves in a mirror. They may think a stranger is in their room. Try to fill the patient’s room with photos of people and events that stir up pleasant memories.
Source: Reproduced from http://www.caregiving-solutions.com/