How to Make Your Home Safer for an Adult with Alzheimer's

  • October 09, 2019

As a senior loved one’s Alzheimer’s disease progresses, the feasibility of continuing to live alone decreases. Safety concerns that family caregivers worry about range from wandering away to mismanaging finances. When a senior’s need for support escalates, an adult child may decide to move them in to their home.

If you are preparing to move your parent or other family member in to live with you, the first step is to audit your home for potential safety concerns. Because Alzheimer’s disease creates unique challenges, there are a few issues you’ll need to consider.

Identify and Address Home Safety Risks

1. Explore a system to prevent wandering.

People with Alzheimer’s disease are prone to wandering away. For reasons ranging from unmet needs to an environment being too chaotic, it’s a behavior that presents serious safety risks. Before your family member moves in, take steps to lower the odds they will wander away.

In addition to a home security system, you’ll need a real-time GPS bracelet or pendant. These allow you to track and locate the older adult should they wander from your home.

It also helps to eliminate cues that can lead to wandering. For example, you can paint the interior side of the door the same color as the walls. That helps disguise the exit. Encourage family members to store coats, boots, keys, purses, and other leaving cues out of sight and away from doors. 

2. Lock up potential hazards.

Because of the damage Alzheimer’s does to the brain, an adult living with the disease may have impaired judgment. You can lower the risk of injury by packing up or locking up potential hazards. Examples would include cleaning products, knives, and any firearms you keep in the home.

You should also take steps to secure both prescription and over-the-counter medications. A locked pill dispenser might be helpful.

3. Conduct a fall assessment.

Alzheimer’s disease can impact vision, especially peripheral vision. It may also lead to balance problems and gait changes. Each of these can put an older adult with Alzheimer’s at a high risk for a fall.

Prior to your family member moving in, conduct a room-by-room assessment to identify issues that may contribute to falls. Uneven stairs, throw rugs, poor lighting, and clutter are a few examples.

4. Identify plants that may be poisonous.

Adults with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in their mouth to try to eat them. Artificial fruit and fake flowers can present choking hazards. Equally dangerous are plants that are poisonous to humans. Take time to remove those items from the home.

Visit Five Star Memory Care

While it’s not often a long-term answer, moving a senior loved one in with you may be a good short-term solution. This gives you more time to explore local memory care communities, like Five Star Senior Living, and make a confident decision.

At Five Star Senior Living communities, we use the eight key principles of Montessori-based dementia programming. It’s just one of the many reasons our Bridge to Rediscovery Alzheimer’s care is so popular with seniors and their families. Call us today at (617) 796-8387 to learn more.

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51 Warning Signs

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