We’ve been talking about gift giving and the holidays the past couple of weeks. One other item to consider at this time – and actually throughout the year – is the safety of an individual with Alzheimer’s within the home. With care, people living with Alzheimer’s can remain in their homes safely for a longer period of time if safety issues are addressed. However, safety issues will evolve as the disease progresses, so always be sure to re-evaluate safety periodically. The holidays bring extra people into the home, changing a familiar environment. Small children and possibly a visiting dog can turn a carefully-rendered routine upside down. It’s important to present as much of a sense of normalcy to the person living with Alzheimer’s as is possible. Make sure your guests understand and are able (to their ability) to help you keep an eye on the person living with Alzheimer’s.
One thing people can help with is wandering furniture. Unsecured throw rugs, floor lamps and coffee tables seem to take on a life of their own when there are multiple people in the house. Beware of any items that might cause a person to trip, and try to create unrestricted areas for movement. Four other areas need to be addressed. The first is the kitchen. During the holidays, it truly does become the heart of the home. Be wary of movement around the range where hot pans may be bubbling. Take care to ensure knives and other sharp objects are inaccessible. Mixers, blenders and food processors are wonderful time saving devices, but a moment’s inattention can result in a painful accident. You may also want to go to your hot water heater settings to lower the temperature of tap water and monitor food temperatures if possible, to prevent the person from accidentally getting burned. If you have a fireplace, make sure the hearth screen is secured and that someone is always monitoring the area around it. Decorations are great to look at, but they can also be a source of trips and falls, breakage, and other accidents.
Finally, watch your doors. Lock off hazardous areas or rooms. Consider using safety devices, such as childproof locks and door knobs. And at all times, keep a list of emergency phone numbers and addresses by every phone, as well as a list of all prescriptions and dosages. For more information on home safety, visit this page:
With a little forethought, holiday gatherings can continue to be rewarding. If you have questions, call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 helpline at 800-272-3900 for more information.