When you’re caring for your loved one with Alzheimer’s, it’s important to consider home safety as a special concern. Follow these home safety tips to help keep them away from harm’s way.
• Prepare for emergencies. Post emergency phone numbers and your home address near all telephones in your home.
• Use night lights. Use night lights in your loved one’s bedroom and the bathroom to remove the risk of tripping in case he or she gets up at night.
• Watch out for slippery or uneven surfaces. Remove rugs or rips in the carpet. Put nonskid strips or wax on hardwood and tile floors.
• Keep stairs and hallways safe. Place light switches at the top and bottom of stairs and at both ends of hallways. Stairways need to have at least one handrail that extends beyond the first and last steps. Cover stairs in carpet or apply safety grip strips. If the person has balance problems, put a gate across the stairs.
• Adjust your home phone and voice mail settings. Turn the ringer of your home phone down to avoid distraction and confusion. Set the answering machine or voice mail to turn on after the fewest number of rings as possible. A person with Alzheimer’s disease often may not be capable of receiving messages or could accidentally become the victim of telephone exploitation.
• Put smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Place them in or near the kitchen and in the areas of sleeping. Test them regularly to be sure they work well. The batteries need to be changed every few months. In case your loved one experience vision or hearing problems, install a smoke alarm with a vibrating pad or flashing light.
• Check the locks. Make sure there are secure locks on all outside doors and windows. Place a spare set of house keys outside of the house, in case the person with Alzheimer’s disease locks you out.
• Take care of outlets and electrical cords. Place lamps and appliances near electrical outlets. Cover electrical outlets you’re not using with childproof plugs.
• Keep fish tanks out of reach. The combination of glass, water, electrical pumps, and potentially poisonous aquatic life could put a curious person with Alzheimer’s disease in danger.
• Adjust hot water heater. Set your hot water heater to 120 degrees or lower to prevent burns from scalding tap water.
Make sure your loved one’s surroundings are as safe and comfortable as possible with the home safety tips suggested above to keep his or her independence and lessen your stress of caregiving.