Written by Lydia Chan.

Alzheimer’s changes people in many ways as the disease progresses. Changes in behaviour increase as alterations in the brain produce shifts in personality. Memory and the ability to function in familiar surroundings becomes impaired. Judgement, spatial familiarity, perceptive abilities, and one’s sense of balance all may begin to decline. Before you know it, even the most innocuous objects in a home that’s been a haven of love and nurturing for many years become a threat to your loved one’s safety. It’s an unpredictable situation, one that makes things dangerous for your care subject and stressful for you. As caregiver, there are precautions you can take to alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty that comes with safeguarding an individual who may not be able to identify potential dangers anymore. Ageing in place is possible for patients with Alzheimer’s as long as you adopt the measures necessary to protect them.

Safety aids

An Alzheimer’s patient can easily cause an emergency, such as a kitchen fire, without realising what’s happening. It’s important to make sure that all smoke detectors in the home are working, so check the batteries on a monthly basis. You should have a working fire extinguisher (make sure you know how to use it in case the worse happens), and there should be a complete list of emergency numbers including the fire department, sheriff or police department, poison control centre, and the emergency room at the nearest hospital. There’s also a 24-hour Alzheimer’s caregiver emergency hotline that can provide invaluable support and information. And don’t forget your first aid kit, which should be kept fully stocked.

Clear passage

Alzheimer’s patients suffer falls at an alarmingly high rate. Often, they’re mishaps that could easily have been avoided with diligence and attention to detail. The lack of spatial awareness that often accompanies Alzheimer’s disease can easily cause your family member to overlook a bunched-up rug or an electrical cord that hasn’t been taped down. All clutter should be removed, and the floor space in all hallways and bedrooms should be kept clear of anything that could cause a fall.

Bathroom safety

The bathroom is a source of many potential dangers for someone who has Alzheimer’s. Wet and slippery surfaces, sharp objects, and medication bottles are frequently the cause of serious accidents that require a trip to the emergency room. Make sure there are slip-proof pads in the bathtub or shower and that grab rails are installed in the shower and alongside the toilet to prevent falls. Take particular care to keep medications carefully labeled or locked away, depending on the circumstances and severity of your loved one’s condition. Be sure to keep razors and scissors out of reach or locked away in a bathroom cabinet.

Bright lights

Well-lit space is a must for keeping an Alzheimer’s patient safe. Entering a dark room can be frightening to someone with Alzheimer’s, and poor lighting may add to your loved one’s confusion, especially if his or her dementia has reached an advanced state. There should be a light at the top of each stairway and especially in your loved one’s bedroom. Night lights can be a big help; consider using them in bedrooms, hallways, and bathrooms.

Service dogs

The companionship and assistance provided by service dogs are important to Alzheimer’s patients. These remarkable dogs can help an individual who gets lost find his or her way home, and they’re trained to set off an alarm if their care subject falls or is injured. The companionship and mutual care that define these relationships has a demonstrably positive effect on people struggling with dementia, cognitive decline, and depression.

Safe and happy

People who struggle with Alzheimer’s and the debilitating effects of dementia can live safe and happy lives at home with the right care. Key to that care is the maintenance of a safe and secure home environment. Caregivers can provide that environment by following a few basic rules and paying careful attention to detail.

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