The Breckinridge: An Alzheimer's Residence

What Is Alzheimer's

Safety

A Guide to Safe Guarding your Home

When caring for someone with memory problems in the home it is important to avoid accidents, minimize injuries in the event of an accident, and remove "triggers" that could cause agitation or challenging behaviors.

The following are suggestions for safe proofing your home. It is important to accommodate the needs of the caregivers as well as the person with dementia. There are no fixed rules. Each person's home is different, just like each person with dementia. There will be unique behaviors or characteristics that require continual reassessment. Be sure to walk throughout the home as the disease progresses to monitor it for safety issues that may arise.

Start with a Plan - Survey your home thoroughly prior to making changes. Look for areas and items that could be hazardous to your loved one. Survey the home as if you were the person with dementia then decide what area should be tackled first.

The following suggestions can assist you with beginning your plan:

     

Simplify - The simpler things are in the home, the fewer environmental inputs there are to interpret and distract the person.

Create - walking paths throughout the home - Paths should be developed as straight and direct as possible. For example: a path from the kitchen (point A) to the dining room (point B), will need to be free of furniture and decorative items. (all throw rugs should be removed)

Reduce Clutter - Open spaces make access and decision-making easier, while decreasing over-stimulation.

Utilize Labels - Labeling areas and items in the home may provide visual cues to maintain the person's independence within the household. It is important to use symbols and/or the language the person can relate to at their current level of function.

Identify "Zones" in your home - Think of your home as you start to develop a plan. As you survey your home, look at all cabinets, drawers, and living spaces as one of the following zones:

      Danger Zone - this is an area that should be off-limits to your loved one. This zone includes anything that may be potentially dangerous. These types of rooms should be secured and can be used to store breakables, tools, chemicals, or any other items deemed unsafe for your loved one. Doors leading to these rooms should be kept locked and alarmed if possible.

Examples include:
      Garage (access to a car, tools, chemicals, etc.)
Basement
Attics
Workshops
Hobby rooms(machinery, paint, etc.)
Staircases
Outdoor (pools, spas, unfenced areas)
Computer rooms
Kitchen

If you cannot lock these areas, then removing dangerous items and/or disabling potentially dangerous applications and machinery is a must.
 

Respite Zone - This space should be considered a sanctuary for the caregiver. This is a place where the caregiver can relax undisturbed and conduct personal affairs. Having a place to get away and have time alone can greatly reduce burnout and stress.

Examples include:
      Renovated attic
Spare room
Office in the home

Safe Zone - This should be everything else not identified as a danger or respite zone. As much of the house as possible should remain available to your loved one to wander, hide things, rummage and exhibit the behaviors that are common with the disease. This zone should be free from agitating or harmful situations.

These suggestions may help to create a safe environment for your loved one to live in while they can still remain at home.

 

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