Five Ways to Alzheimer’s-Proof Your Holidays
Expert Caregiver Dorian Martin has taken her mother's and grandmother’s dementia in stride. Here are Dorian’s tips on preventing Alzheimer’s from dampening holiday spirit.
Take Them Back to a Familiar Space. Place your loved one in a bedroom or area of the house that he or she has already occupied. The residual memories he or she associates with the space may enhance his or her sense of security.
Safeguard Baubles, Valuables and Breakable Items. My grandmother, who had some form of dementia, was attracted to sparkly items. During visits, she would pick up rhinestone buttons and other shiny objects that weren’t hers, stow them in a pocket, and then place them in her jewelry case at home. If you want to ensure that your treasures remain yours, put them in a safe place.
Avoid In-Home Hazards. Think about utensils, appliances and furniture – and what could go wrong. Then, plan for prevention. A stove that gets turned on might not get turned off. Glass tables and unstable furniture can break or topple. Make sure your loved one doesn’t hurt him or herself on a sharp object or piece of furniture. Also, limit access to potential dangers (such as the kitchen) or ensure that someone can monitor hazardous areas and items.
Admit That Your Loved One’s Judgment is Impaired. Plan on making adjustments in many situations. Shortly before my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she was drinking a glass of wine with dinner. We ate on trays that night, so we could watch TV. Mom attempted to balance her tray on her lap and placed her wine on the tray. Of course, the wine spilled all over the light-colored couch. In the past, she would never have tried that and would have warned anyone else who attempted that balancing act. You aren’t doing anyone any favors, if you pretend nothing has changed.
Keep track of your loved one if they go outside or to a populated area. It would be very easy for them to wander off without your realizing it. And having Alzheimer’s disease will mean that they probably won’t know where they are (or could think that they are in another city – or another time in their lives).
Published On: December 20, 2006